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However, see your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms you’ve never had before, such as coughing up blood.’Here, we talk to the UK’s cough experts to help you work out what’s behind your symptoms . It usually occurs during the day, prompting a coughing fit that lasts around ten minutes.In extreme cases, sufferers experience incontinence and even fractured ribs.If your cough lasts for more than eight weeks, he advises seeing a GP.‘A chest X-ray should be performed to rule out any serious underlying disease. A stubborn dry cough that comes and goes, but never quite disappears.Such coughs used to be simply written off as ‘unexplained’.But doctors have recently discovered that in some cases the problem is hypersensitivity in the upper airways, triggered by a reflux of gas from the stomach.However, not everyone who has gas reflux will develop a cough as a symptom.
‘But persistent coughs can also be caused by viruses and infections,’ he says.
‘This gas is like a mist — containing air, bits of food and stomach enzymes, which irritate the upper area of the throat,’ explains Professor Morice.
Once this hypersensitivity has set in, sufferers will have a coughing fit if anything — such as dust or cold air — touches their throat.
The cough can be triggered by talking, laughing, singing or eating particularly dry food. The most likely cause is stomach acid splashing up the gullet — this affects about 25 per cent of the adult Western population and is known as reflux.
As the lining of the gullet is extremely soft and sensitive, this leads to inflammation, which triggers a coughing fit.