What is causing my cough this season? 

Cough is one of the common illnesses you’ll find during the peak of fall and can linger into springtime due to allergies and other conditions. This is because as the season changes and the hot weather turns colder, you may find yourself coughing to clear irritants and dirts from your throat. Or when pollen and allergen triggers spread more easily in warmer, breezer weather.  

While a cough may not necessarily signify significant health risks, knowing what is causing it can help you determine if there’s cause for alarm and the best treatment option.

What is Cough?

Coughing is an attempt by your throat to clear its airways of unwanted irritants. Coughing can be a voluntary or an involuntary action, persistent and acute, mild or long term. While a mild, occasional cough is often nothing to worry about, dry, persistent cough that doesn’t clear up in 2-3 weeks may be signs of an underlying condition that needs to be checked immediately. You should also visit your doctor if your cough produces mucus with blood in it.

Main Causes of Cough During Fall

  1. Viral Infection: most coughs that happen during fall and winter seasons are caused by a viral infection, the same one that causes the flu or common cold. A viral infection affects and blocks the upper airways, the resulting cough is the body’s natural response to clear the airways. 

Your cough could also be from RSV or COVID-19. Cough from COVID-19, RSV, and influenza can be very irritating if left untreated. You may have to take a test to determine the exact cause, since they all present similar symptoms. 

  1. Irritants and Allergies: When you come in contact with allergies or breathe in irritants in the air, you are most likely to develop a cough. Allergens such as pollens, hay fever can cause dry cough. Similarly, breathing irritants like dust, vapors, and chemical fumes can irritate your throat and block the airways, resulting in a cough. In fact, constant exposure to these elements can be very dangerous as it can lead to more severe complications like lung disease.
  1. Smoking: Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause coughing. Commonly referred to as smokers’ cough, this type of cough is very dry and brittle. 
  1. Asthma: If you have asthma, your cough may worsen during the fall due to the presence of irritants in the air. It’s advisable to use your inhaler religiously during this time and avoid dusty and dry air. 
  2. Sinus Infection: One of the symptoms of sinus infection is coughing. Your sinuses are what keeps your nostrils and nasal pathways moisturized and well protected. They also produce mucus. When they are infected, it causes a blockage that triggers coughing. 

If you happen to have a cough this fall, the factors highlighted above are the most likely culprits. However, we advise our readers to carefully evaluate their symptoms to make the most informed decision about treatment and quarantine. Book seasonal illness testing today at a local urgent care center to know your status!