If you feel like you’re coughing all the time, there’s an 80% chance that your doctor has no idea why.
His or her first guesses will be asthma or bronchitis.
But a study published in latest edition of the Journal Cureus reveals an unlikely candidate as a very common cause for chronic coughing: Acid Reflux.
The authors of this study consulted the CERNER Health Facts® database for inpatient and outpatient encounters with doctors for chronic cough.
The database included ICD10 codes that specified the cause of the patients’ cough, as well as the medication that was prescribed to treat it.
Because the study focuses on chronic coughing, rather than simply coughing, they excluded cases that lasted less than three weeks, along with cases that were caused by known temporary issues like acute upper and lower respiratory tract infections and viral or bacterial infections.
In their sample of 457,105 patients, the doctors could only definitively diagnose the cause of the cough in 20% of cases.
Of those cases they could diagnose, the researchers found that acid reflux was one of the biggest culprits.1. 8.8% (40,096) of patients had asthma.
2. 6.8% (30,960) had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchiectasis.
3. 5.2% (23,804) had acid reflux.
The acid reflux cases yielded further statistics:1. Acid reflux was more common among female than male participants: 5.5% versus 4.7%.
2. The chance of acid reflux increased with a higher body mass index score, reaching 8.6% in obese patients (a BMI score above 30).
Because acid reflux is not usually associated with chronic coughing, it’s very likely that a big part of the 80% undiagnosable cases of couching were indeed caused by acid reflux. The doctors in those cases just didn’t think of that as a possibility.
This is just one rather mild consequence of acid reflux. It’s not just an innocent annoyance. In fact, acid reflux causes at least six fatal types of cancers.