A cough variant asthma is a special kind of asthma where the main symptom is a dry cough. With the most common form of asthma when a person coughs, he or she coughs out mucus. In a cough variant asthma case, this symptom is called a non-productive cough and no mucus is coughed up. Cough variant asthma (CVA) sufferers may not have any other asthma symptom such as wheezing or breathing issues (shortness of breath). Sometimes cough variant asthma is simply called a chronic cough, as it will last longer than a month and a half to two months before it clears up. This coughing can occur at any time of the day or night, but will interrupt sleeping if it happens at night.
The coughing can be brought on by a variety of reasons. The coughing may be brought on when one is exercising, in which case this type of asthma will then be called exercised-induced asthma. It can be brought on by any one of the regular asthma triggers such as pollution or smoke. It can be brought on by certain fragrances or even weather factors such as cold air.
Who is at risk for getting cough variant asthma?
Actually anyone can get it, though it is far more common in children. Cough variant asthma can lead to the development of wheezing and shortness of breathe which the other classic asthma symptoms. What causes this type of asthma?
No one knows for sure what causes cough variant asthma no more than they know what causes classic asthma. However, in cough variant asthma cases, exercising or exposure to the allergens in the air, or other triggers may actually induce the coughing. There are other probable causes including an upper respiratory infection such as sinusitis with asthma.
It has been noted that beta-blockers seem to produce the cough variant asthma symptom. Beta-blockers are the medication often prescribed for certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines, heart disease, palpitations, and heart failure. Asthma suffers also find that the cough comes on after they have applied the eye drops used to treat glaucoma since there are beta blockers in these drops as well. Some asthma sufferers are aspirin sensitive and the cough variant asthma symptom can commence if they take aspirin at any time.
Cough variant asthma diagnosis
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to make a proper diagnosis. Since the cough is the only symptom, cough variant asthma is often misdiagnosed for a cough relating to a postnasal drip, or it can be misdiagnosed for bronchitis.
The diagnostic tools used to confirm cough variant asthma include a case history taken by your doctor, a physical exam testing breathing, and chest x-rays. A spirometry test which measure how much air you can exhale after taking in a deep breathe may be required if the other tests do not show signs of asthma. If the measurement on this test shows that lung function drops by 20 percent, it means asthma is present. During or before the test, your throat will be sprayed with methacholine and again after the test. At the completion of the test a bronchodilator designed to open the airways once more will be given to counteract the methacholine, which restricted the passageways.
A doctor can also choose to give asthma medications and if the patient responses to the medication then a diagnosis of cough variant asthma will be made.
Treatments for Cough Variant Asthma
Cough variant asthma is treated with the same medications the doctor would give a typical asthma sufferer. Most people use inhalers, which contain albuterol, ipratropium, and or inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids).