*Sponsored by Merck
Approximately 5% of adults in the U.S. are living with chronic cough, a cough that lasts longer than 8 weeks. People with the condition commonly cough in “bouts” they cannot control, and usually feel a strong urge to cough before a coughing bout starts.
Over the course of her career supporting people with pulmonary conditions, Kathy Przywara, our Senior Community Director, has gotten to know many people living with chronic cough and has heard first-hand how the condition can affect daily life. Here, she shares what she’s learned about chronic cough and where people living with the condition can find resources.
Q: What challenges do you see people with chronic cough experience and what can be done to help reduce those challenges?
In my experience, chronic cough can be irritating, frustrating and at times embarrassing. I think it’s important for people with chronic cough to receive a diagnosis so they can understand their condition. However, getting an accurate diagnosis is one of the biggest challenges I’ve seen, as there are many possible underlying causes of chronic cough that need to be investigated.
Chronic cough is commonly associated with other underlying health conditions, such as asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), upper airway cough syndrome (UACS) and non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis (NAEB). To diagnose chronic cough, healthcare providers may refer a person to be evaluated by specialists. In some people with chronic cough, appropriate treatment of an underlying condition does not resolve the cough, or an underlying condition cannot be identified.
Q: As you talk to people who have chronic cough, what do they tell you about how it affects their relationships or family members?
I know from talking to many people with chronic cough that it can be frustrating for them as well as others around them, since the condition can impact daily life and activities. I’ve seen that a cough is often dismissed and thought to be something you can "control." However, people with chronic cough commonly can’t control their cough, and sometimes coughing bouts occur when they least expect them to – at the movies, in a restaurant, on a plane – which can be embarrassing.
Q: What are the best ways family/friends of those with chronic cough can help and offer support to their loved ones?
From my perspective, one of the best things family and friends can do is show patience and be understanding. Chronic cough can be exhausting for the person living with the condition because they can't just "stop coughing.” Additionally, voicing frustrations may be helpful for those with chronic cough, so I think it’s also helpful for family and friends to provide a listening ear for support.
Q: Why is it important to raise awareness of chronic cough? Where can patients find more information?
I think it’s important for people with chronic cough to know they are not alone and hear from others with similar experiences, which is why we are excited to partner with Merck on The Cough Chronicles.
The Cough Chronicles is an educational resource where people can learn more about chronic cough and hear from others with similar experiences. The website includes information on the condition, as well as stories and videos from others dealing with chronic cough. It’s also important for patients to work with their healthcare professionals.
For more information about chronic cough, visit The Cough Chronicles, an educational resource sponsored by Merck in collaboration with the American Lung Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to support those living with the condition.