By: The Wellington Team | Published: May 10, 2012
This week the NHS has launched a campaign to raise awareness of Lung cancer and its symptoms. The campaign backed by celebrities such as Ricky Gervais and Sir Alex Ferguson recommends that people who have been suffering from a persistent cough for more than 3 weeks should go to see their GP. Watch the advert on NHS Choices.
Damian Muncaster, The Wellington’s Senior Chief Respiratory Physiologist give us a brief over view on Lung Cancer and talks about persistant coughing.
Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the UK but early detection and treatment greatly improves survival rates. A persistent cough could be an early warning sign for cancer especially if the sufferer is a smoker and notices blood in their phlegm.
The good news though is that the 90 % of persistent coughs are caused by reasons much less sinister. There are 3 main causes of persistent cough and these are as follows.
1) Postnasal drip. Secretions from the nose drip into the back of the throat and trigger a cough. This is caused by allergies, colds, rhinitis and sinusitis.
2) Acid reflux. Acid from the stomach flows back into the oesophagus. The presence of this acidic material can lead to chronic irritation and coughing. People who suffer from this often have heart burn and a sour taste in their mouth.
3) Asthma. Asthma is a relatively common condition affecting over 5.4million people in the UK. It causes an inflammation of your airways which can leave the sufferer breathless, wheezy and coughing. These symptoms are often worse at night time. It may be that a patient has cough variant asthma where a cough is the only symptom.
A trigger normally causes a patient’s asthma to ‘flare up’ and these vary from pollen, to cold air, to house dust mites, chest infections and exercise. To correctly diagnose asthma it is important to undergo a full lung function testing with reversibility studies to assess airflow obstruction and any response to beta agonists. It may also be necessary to carry out a bronchial challenge test to assess the level of sensitivity of the airways.
Other less common cause of a persistent cough included chronic bronchitis, use of ACE inhibitors, a respiratory tract infection, lung cancer and it could be that the cough is psychosomatic.
So there are plenty of reasons for a cough and its important that expert advice is sought to make the correct diagnosis . So if your are suffering and spluttering please do book an appointment with a specialist.
If you would more information about lung function testing or would like to book an appointment with Damian please contact the Enquiry Helpline on 0207 483 5148