Acidity is a condition that occurs when acid from the stomach moves upward into the food pipe. The acid causes irritation which leads to heartburn. However, some people may experience acidity without heartburn symptoms as well. These can include belching, difficulty in swallowing food, and chronic cough. In the article, we focus on the connection between an acidity and chronic cough.
Link Between Acidity and Chronic Cough
A chronic cough is usually defined as a cough that lasts for more than eight weeks. Reports suggest that 25% or more of chronic cough cases [Ref] is associated with acidity. However, this does not mean that acidity is the cause of a chronic cough in many of these individuals. Some indications that a chronic cough is a result of acidity are:
- Coughing mostly at night or after your meal
- Coughing while you’re lying down
- You are coughing even after not smoking
Tests for Acidity in People With Chronic Cough
An acidity-related cough is slightly more complicated. Your doctor may try putting you on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a type of medication for acidity, for some days to see if the symptoms resolve. If your symptoms resolve with PPI therapy [Ref], it is likely that you are suffering from acidity. Lifestyle changes are also effective, especially for people with mild to moderate symptoms. In severe cases, surgery may be considered.
Lifestyle and Dietary Changes
Those suffering from a chronic cough caused by acidity can try making the following lifestyle and dietary changes to improve the symptoms:
Maintaining healthy BMI: This reduces some pressure on the stomach, lessening the amount of stomach acid forced up the food pipe.
Avoid tight clothes: Wearing loose clothes reduces pressure on the stomach.
Quit smoking: Smokers are at a much higher risk of developing acidity.
Don’t over-eat: Large meals suppress the closure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid to rise up into the food pipe.
Avoid lying down after or during meals: You should wait for at least three hours before lying down after your meals.
Elevating the head of the bed: Those with night time acidity can try raising the head of their bed with blocks or wooden wedges. This will lessen the amount of rising acid.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, citrus, fried and spicy foods as they can trigger acidity.
Ginger and Honey: Ginger and honey mixed together is the best way to cure a dry cough. It is best to use organic honey as some brands can contain added ingredients that may irritate a sore throat.
Tea: Black tea is a go-to for many to cure a cough. You can also add drops of ginger and honey to it for best results.
Steam: Inhaling steam is one of the most effective ways to suppress a dry cough. Steam can help remove throat irritants and soothe the airways. Cover your head with a towel as you lean over a bowl of boiling water to breathe in the vapors.
Bromelain: You don’t usually think of pineapple as a cough remedy, but that’s because you’ve never heard of bromelain. There’s evidence to suggest that bromelain — an enzyme found only in the stem and fruit of pineapples — can help suppress coughs and loosen the mucus in your throat.
Peppermint leaves: Menthol in peppermint soothes the throat and helps to break down mucus. You can benefit by drinking peppermint tea or by inhaling peppermint vapors from a steam bath.
Salt and water gargle: A salt and water gargle can help soothe a scratchy throat that causes you to cough. Mixing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 200 ml of warm water can help relieve the irritation.
If a dry cough does not improve, you may have to seek medical advice.