Doctors in the UAE are highlighting at least a 10 per cent surge in patients seeking medical attention for persistent coughs.

They said weather fluctuations commonly act as triggers for conditions such as asthma, allergies, and bronchitis, leading to an escalation in chronic cough during these changes.

Medics explained chronic cough often stems from respiratory issues like asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and various other respiratory causes.

Dr Jimmy Joseph, Specialist Internal Medicine and Diabetologist, Aster Clinic, International City said, “There is a surge in cases of cough. I get to see 8-10 patients daily in OPD with disturbing coughs lasting more than 10 days. We see persistent coughs greater than three weeks with nearly 20-30 per cent of daily cases. Persistent cough means when the cough lasts between three to eight weeks.”

Acid reflux-induced cough

Even Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where stomach acid regularly flows back into the esophagus, irritating the lining. When this acidic fluid reaches the throat and respiratory tract, it can lead to irritation and trigger a cough.

“Causes include post viral/ post-infective cough, postnasal drip, GERD/ acid reflux, asthma, and smoking. Other causes include chronic bronchitis/COPD, Covid 19 and post-infection, ACE inhibitors (blood pressure medication), congestive heart failure, and lung cancer,” he added.

Medics stressed the substantial increase in cough cases can be attributed significantly to the changing seasons, the flu, influenza, cold weather, rain, and dust.

“Patients should approach a doctor when a cough lasts more than 7-10 days, a person loses weight rapidly, coughs out blood, has continuous fever, night sweats, chest pain, and shortness of breath. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, complete the full antibiotic course. Avoid OTC medications,” Joseph added.

Dr Bassam Abdelmonem, consultant Emergency Care with Prime Hospital, also reiterated that they’ve recently observed an increased number of patients with chronic coughs.

He said, “Around 10 per cent of patients visiting the Emergency Room (ER) present themselves with chronic cough. Weather changes are common asthma triggers; allergies and bronchitis then chronic cough will increase by these changes. Patients with chronic cough should seek medical advice when they have had a cough for more than three weeks persistently or they're losing weight for no reason. Other reasons include if one has a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or diabetes.”

Multiple underlying causes

They emphasised determining the cause of chronic cough is crucial to effective treatment. In many cases, more than one underlying condition may cause a chronic cough.

Healthcare professionals pointed out a persistent cough sometimes goes beyond being a mere inconvenience, as it can disrupt one’s sleep and lead to feelings of exhaustion. In more severe instances, chronic coughing may induce vomiting and dizziness, and even rarely result in rib fractures.

Dr Zaid Mahdi Mohammed, Canadian Specialist Hospital Dubai, said, “The most common causes of chronic cough are postnasal drip, asthma, and acid reflux from the stomach. These three causes are responsible for up to 90 per cent of all cases of chronic cough. Honey and saltwater gargling, using a humidifier, or taking steam can be some of the effective home remedies.”

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