Cough-variant asthma is a variation of asthma in which the main symptom is a dry, non-productive cough which produces no mucus. Unlike other forms of asthma, people with cough-variant asthma often do not wheeze or suffer from shortness of breath.
Cough-variant asthma is sometimes diagnosed as a chronic cough, which means it is a cough that has lasted longer than six to eight weeks. Cough-variant asthma can occur during the day or night. The coughing often increases with exercise, leading to exercise-induced asthma. Exposure to asthma triggers or known allergens such as dust, pollen, strong fragrances or cold air may also lead to an increase in coughing for those with cough-variant asthma.
Cough-variant asthma can occur at any stage in life, but it is often diagnosed in kids with childhood asthma. Cough-variant asthma may lead to the development of classic asthma later in life, with symptoms including shortness of breath and wheezing.
The cause of cough-variant asthma is unknown. However, symptoms may be triggered by exposure to allergens, breathing in cold air, or following an upper respiratory infection. A patient that has begun taking beta-blockers also has a higher risk of developing cough-variant asthma. Beta-blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, migraines, and other conditions, can bring on asthma symptoms, including cough. Asthma and aspirin-sensitivity may also cause cough-variant asthma.
Cough-variant asthma can be difficult to diagnose because the cough is often the only symptom, leading to misdiagnosis as bronchitis, cough associated with postnasal drip, or other conditions. In order for it to be diagnosed properly health care providers will need to ask patients questions about their medical history and perform a thorough medical exam. People with cough-variant asthma will often have normal physical exams, chest X-rays, and spirometry, which measures how much air they exhale as they empty their lungs.
In order to diagnose cough-variant asthma, a methacholine challenge test may be needed. This text, which often needs to be performed at a special facility, requires the patient to inhale methacholine, which causes airways to spasm and narrow if asthma is present. During the test, patients inhale increasing amounts of methacholine aerosol mist before and after spirometry. If lung function drops by at least 20% the test is considered positive for asthma. Healthcare providers may try to diagnose cough-variant asthma by treating the cough with asthma medications. If the cough improves with treatment, then the patient will be diagnosed with cough-variant asthma. Cough-variant asthma is treated the same way classic asthma is treated, usually with inhaled medications such as albuterol, or inhaled steroids. With proper treatment, symptoms should improve within six to eight weeks.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cough-variant asthma, Asthma and Allergy Technology has several asthma control devices to help you with the treatment and control of your symptoms. Whether you need nebulizers and spacers to help with the delivery of medications or you’re looking for peak flow meters, masks, and oximeters to help you keep an eye on your symptoms and ensure your asthma is well controlled, these products will help you take control of your asthma.