Cough-variant asthma

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What is Asthma?

The lung illness known as asthma is chronic. Having asthma can cause your airways to constrict, swell, and produce more mucus. Shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing while exhaling, as well as difficulty breathing, may result from this.

Children and adults alike may be impacted. Occupational, environmental, and genetic factors have all been linked to the disease, even though the exact origin of asthma is unknown. Although some people's asthma may only be a minor irritation, others may struggle with a significant condition that interferes with everyday life and may cause a potentially fatal asthma attack.

What is Cough Variant Asthma?

Cough variant asthma (CVA) is a type of asthma that doesn't exhibit the standard symptoms of asthma.

Cough-variant asthma

It features a dry cough. There might not be any classic asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or breathing difficulties. Frequently, the only sign is a chronic cough.

Symptoms of Cough Variant Asthma

CVA can only be identified by one symptom, a persistent cough that has no other known causes. This cough often lasts six to eight weeks and is dry. It excludes a few of the additional hallmarks of asthma, including:

  • chest constriction
  • wheezing during exhaling
  • breathing difficulty
  • Lung fluid is present
  • cough up mucus or phlegm
  • any of the symptoms listed above causing difficulty falling asleep

Despite the fact that CVA doesn't present any symptoms besides coughing, the airways are frequently highly inflamed as a result. Therefore, good CVA management is crucial. CVA can develop into more serious, persistent asthma if it is not managed.

Causes of Cough Variant Asthma

Scientists are unsure of what causes CVA, just like they are with conventional chronic asthma. One possible explanation is that allergens like pollen might make you cough. Another is that respiratory illnesses can result in episodes of coughing.

According to researchers, taking beta-blockers may be linked to CVA in some patients. These medications are typically used to treat a number of ailments, such as heart disease, heart failure, migraines, hypertension and abnormal heart rhythms.

Although the origins of CVA are not fully known, the following triggers frequently result in an asthmatic cough:

  • exposure to allergens or irritants
  • having a cold or upper respiratory infection, such as sinusitis
  • using certain medications
  • exercise
  • changes in the weather
  • Asthma and allergies have a clear link. Up to 80% of people with asthma also have nasal allergies.

When the immune system overreacts to something that ordinarily wouldn't produce a reaction, it results in allergies.  This shows that CVA and the immune system are related. It may also help to understand why CVA reacts positively to drugs that successfully treat conventional asthma.

How can Cough Variant Asthma be diagnosed?

CVA diagnosis might be difficult. There is only one noticeable symptom. Additionally, pulmonary exams used to identify typical asthma, including spirometry, may yield normal results in individuals with CVA.

The methacholine challenge test is frequently used by doctors to identify CVA. In this test, you perform spirometry while inhaling methacholine in the form of an aerosol mist. The airways are then observed by your doctor as they widen and narrow. The doctor will identify asthma if you experience a reduction in lung function of at least 20% while undergoing the test.

Frequently, the methacholine challenge test is conducted in a specialised setting. Without a confirmed diagnosis, a doctor may begin treating asthma if they have a suspicion of CVA. This could validate CVA if it helps you control your cough.

How can Cough Variant Asthma be treated?

Chronic asthma medications are effective in treating CVA. These methods consist of:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids (inhalers)
  • Oral medications
  • Bronchodilators
  • Nebulizers

Tips for managing Cough Variant Asthma

If you have CVA, there are numerous ways to assist prevent asthma attacks:

  • Maintain a regular medication schedule
  • Avoid allergens
  • Make lifestyle adjustments
  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise regularly