Posts tagged sore throat

Dry coughs can be indicative of more serious health issues. This image depicts a woman in a blanket, suffering from a dry cough.

What Causes a Dry Cough?

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Have you had a dry cough nagging away at you for the past few weeks? At first, we attribute it to the flu or just a cough that will ‘go away soon’. As time goes on, we start to ignore it and actually grow accustomed to the cough but this is incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons. Today, we’re going to uncover these reasons and see what your cough could mean (and why you should seek medical attention).

What Is a Dry Cough?

In case you were unaware, a dry cough is any type of cough that produces no mucus or phlegm. Otherwise known as a ‘non-productive’ cough, they quickly become irritating and cause frustration. Often, they get worse at night as you lie down and this prevents a good nights’ sleep and leads to further issues – trouble concentrating at work, constant daytime fatigue, and even impacts on your personal and professional relationships.

Normal Duration of a Cough

With this in mind, how long does a “typical” cough actually last? According to most experts, a cold or flu-related cough should disappear within two weeks. Though some will be shorter and some may extend to three weeks, this is the average duration a cough lasts.

If the cough lasts for more than eight weeks, this is treated as a chronic cough and for children this lasts around four weeks. If you’ve had a dry cough that has lasted for more than eight weeks, now is the time to see the doctor – especially if it’s affecting work/school, sleep, personal life, or produces bloody phlegm.

Diagnosis

When you first visit the doctor, they’ll look into your medical history before beginning a medical examination. In this testing phase, they may take an x-ray as well as a computerized tomography (CT) scan. With a CT scan, they’ll be able to see the condition of your lungs as well as any issues that would produce a cough or issues within the sinus cavities. After this, they could also go for lung function tests, scope tests, and lab tests.

A woman in front of a white background suffering from a dry cough.

Have a dry cough that has persisted for a while? It’s best to get it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible – dry coughs can be indicative of more serious health issues.

Possible Issues

Possible diagnoses could include the following, some of which produce a dry cough:

  • Asthma – First and foremost, a cough relating to asthma may come as the seasons change or after an upper respiratory tract infection. With asthma, it means there is an issue within the lungs and this leads to regular coughs, difficulty breathing, and many other side-effects. If this is the cause, you may be given an inhaler to aid with your breathing, help your lungs, and clear up the cough.
  • Postnasal Drip – As the nose produces excess amounts of mucus, it can actually drip down into the throat and trigger the cough reflex. Also known as upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), it can continue for some time without treatment.
  • Infections – After a bad case of the flu or an infection in the upper respiratory tract, whooping cough can form which is a bacterial infection within the airways and lungs.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – With this issue, stomach acid can back up into the esophagus (which connects your throat and stomach). This can cause both a wet and dry cough, which causes GERD, causing further coughing, etc.
  • Bronchitis – Finally, this inflammation within the bronchial tubes (airways) can cause dry coughing. Although most sufferers are or were heavy smokers, it can occur in anyone and it falls into the spectrum for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Other causes – Ultimately, these are the most common underlying problems for a dry cough but you could also be experiencing a side-effect from blood pressure drugs, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, laryngopharyngeal reflux, and sarcoidosis.

Treatment

Ultimately, the treatment required will depend entirely on the issue found. For example, antihistamines and decongestants are common for allergies and postnasal drip while antibiotics will be the best solution for infections. Furthermore, acid blockers would be advised for acid reflux although surgery is an option for the more severe cases.

Elsewhere, cough suppressants might be issued if the doctor cannot find the reason for the cough. If the cough is preventing you from sleeping and severely affecting your life, this solution should see you through until test results are returned and the doctor can work towards a proper treatment to get you back on your feet.

If you have a dry cough that doesn’t seem to be disappearing or if you’re coughing up blood, get in contact with your doctor today and you can have the problem treated rather than living with a potentially dangerous health condition.

Leukoplakia (cutaneous disease) diagnosis medical concept on tablet screen with stethoscope.

Leukoplakia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Leukoplakia (cutaneous disease) diagnosis medical concept on tablet screen with stethoscope.

Look out for signs of Leukoplakia and talk to a doctor about your condition.

With smoking as the most common cause in today’s society, leukoplakia will see the recipient experience white patches all over the tongue. In addition to the tongue, some also experience these thick patches in the lining of their mouth. If the issue isn’t too serious, it should go away within just a few days but it should also be noted that it can be a sign of something more worrisome such as oral cancer. With this in mind, it’s important to get in contact with a doctor if the problem doesn’t clear after a few days.

Today, we’re going to look into the main causes of leukoplakia as well as the symptoms (so you know what to look for) and how it gets treated!

Causes of Leukoplakia

Despite all the advancements we’ve seen in technology in recent years, we still don’t know exactly why these white spots appear. However, we do know that tobacco exacerbates the problem; this can be both chewing and smoking.

After this, it could be caused by chewing on the insides of our mouth, an inflammatory condition within the body, uneven teeth catching on our cheeks, and perhaps even dentures when they aren’t fitted as they should be. Furthermore, recent research suggests there could be a link between this and the human papilloma virus which is important to note.

The Diseases’ Symptoms

For those who have suffered from the issue, they note ‘strange-looking’ patches inside the mouth. Since most of us look into the mirror when brushing teeth and our tongue is constantly surveying the area, it doesn’t take long to notice something abnormal. Although the most common appearance will be white, we should also say that you might experience spots that are gray, hairy (we’ll discuss this in more detail in just a moment), red, and rough.

To pick up on a few points in the way the appearance can vary, redness is the most common sign of cancer. We recommend contacting a doctor if you see red spots inside your mouth. Furthermore, there is such a thing called ‘hairy leukoplakia’ and the main cause of this will be the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Once you have this virus, it will be with you for life even though it doesn’t often cause any problems for the body. With hairy leukoplakia, this is one of the few times it does make itself known.

Receiving a Diagnosis

Typically, leukoplakia can be diagnosed almost instantly with a simple oral exam. As well as your doctor, your dentist should also know the signs and professional help can be important because the majority of us will misdiagnose the issue as oral thrush. With the latter, the patches tend to be softer which causes them to bleed more frequently and this is how you tell the difference.

If the professional can’t advise on the issue immediately, they may request a couple of small tests just to be sure. By knowing exactly what the problem is, they can move forward to the treatment phase with confidence.

If cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be recommended and this is where the professional will remove some tissue from the affected area before sending it to a laboratory for further testing.

Treatment for the Disease

Once they’ve found the issue, how do they treat it? As mentioned previously, a standard case of leukoplakia won’t worry the doctor too much and they’ll suggest keeping an eye on the spots to make sure they disappear. If you smoke or chew tobacco, it’s important to avoid this trigger. If they fade away, you then know this was the cause and your doctor can provide suggestions for future prevention of the issue.

If your doctor suspected something a little more serious, they’ll wait for the biopsy results. If there are any signs of oral cancer, the patch will have to be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading. Ultimately, this procedure will be similar to a biopsy in that they’ll take the small patch with a scalpel or perhaps even laser treatment. If the patches are extensive and these two methods won’t help, full oral surgery will be required.

With hairy leukoplakia, they might be removed but it depends on the circumstances. For example, some retinoic acid antiviral medications can prevent the patches from growing.

Although the majority of cases are harmless, we recommend contacting a doctor if the spots are red in appearance or if they don’t fade away as they should after a few days!

A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectiomies.

Tonsillectomies: Are They as Effective as We Think?

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A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectomies.

Do tonsillectomies get the job done?

More common in children than adults, tonsillectomies are performed to resolve tonsillitis or strep throat. The procedure also helps with breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea. However, it’s a costly, as it removes the tonsils. Patients often undergo a tonsillectomy after dealing with several bouts of tonsillitis or throat infections. However, are they as effective as we think?

Why Are Tonsillectomies Are Being Called Into Question?

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted an in-depth systematic review of four papers on the subject regarding tonsillectomies. This study focused on how effective the procedure was towards helping children with sleep-disordered breathing and throat infections.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive study in tonsillectomy literature ever done,” said investigator David Francis, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of Otolaryngology. “We determined the lay of the land of what’s known and what’s not known about this extremely common procedure.”

After a thorough review of the illness rates in children who have had tonsillectomies versus those who waited for the infection to resolve itself, they found that the benefits of this surgery may not be long term. Schools experienced a reduction in absences due to throat infections during the first year after most kids underwent surgery, but that benefit did not last over time.

More studies found that the surgery was effective at treating sleep-disordered breathing, the risk was minimal and only a small amount of patients needed readmission overtime. However, what the researchers could not find is if these benefits were long-term. Most of the studies that do research into tonsillectomies do not follow patients after a long period of time.

There were too many questions left unanswered for the researchers to make a defined conclusion. Still, this procedure is the best course of action for children who suffer from tonsillitis frequently. See an otolaryngologist to learn more about the procedure and if it is right for you or your children.

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