A persistent cough can cause side effects that arise from the stress your body endures during a coughing fit. While coughing fits may be annoying, they are generally far from dangerous. Coughing is usually the result of a minor throat irritation or blockage, and it generally resolve itself quickly and without the need for further intervention. Sometimes however, more severe coughing fits can have side effects. Here are ten conditions and other symptoms that can happen as the result of severe and/or prolonged coughing fits.
1. Muscle Strain: Coughing uses several muscles of the body – particularly the diaphragm, intercostal muscles, the accessory muscles and others. When these muscles are overused, they can experience strain. The only way to reduce this strain is simply to treat the cough and let the muscles rest. An over-the-counter pain reliever can also be used to help ease the pain.
2. Muscle Spasm: Muscle spasms are often the result of tired or overused muscles. Sudden and extended coughing fits can both cause muscle spasms. Muscle spasms are best treated by rest, gentle stretching and staying well-hydrated.
3. Chest Pain: In addition to vital organs, the chest is also filled with muscles. When a person strains these muscles as the result of coughing, chest pain can be a resulting symptom. Mild chest pain can be treated by rest, over-the-counter medications, deep breathing and a change in position.
4. Joint Irritation: Violent coughing fits do not just affect a person’s lungs and throat. They can affect a person’s entire body, including the joints. Over-the-counter medicines and rest are the best treatments for mild, cough-related joint pain.
5. Disc Abnormalities: The most violent of coughing fits can even cause disc abnormalities, including herniated discs, bulging discs and torn discs. These side effects are more likely in people with existing disc problems. People with herniated discs may follow a treatment regimen including rest, pain medications, exercise and physical therapy. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
6. Exhaustion: Because coughing uses so many muscles, it can be incredibly tiring. People who have frequent, lengthy or severe coughing fits may find themselves exhausted as a result, especially if they had little energy before. The best cure for exhaustion is simply for a person to take a night-time cough suppressant so they can get some much-needed sleep.
7. Sore Throat: Coughs are not just caused by sore throats; they cause sore throats as well. Too much coughing will almost certainly result in a throat that is sore and scratchy. Sore throats can be treated by gargling salt water, staying well-hydrated and running a cool-mist humidifier.
8. Light-headedness: During a coughing fit, people are unable to breathe properly. If the coughing fit persists for a long enough time, it can cause a person to suffer from a reduced oxygen level, which can cause lightheadedness. Lying down and staying well hydrated are two excellent ways to treat temporary lightheadedness.
9. Loss of Bladder Control: Large, forceful coughs can put sudden pressure on a person’s bladder. This can cause a person to experience a sudden loss of bladder control. Elderly people and women who have had children are at an especially high risk for this side effect, though it could happen to anyone. People who worry about losing bladder control during a coughing fit should practice Kegels, and they should use the restroom frequently so their bladders are never completely full.
10. Loss of Sleep: It is very difficult for people to sleep when they have a persistent cough keeping them awake all night. Not only can a cough keep people from falling asleep, but it can also cause people to wake up in the middle of the night as well. An over-the-counter sleep aid, cough medicine, a warm bath or shower, maintaining a comfortable temperate and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can all help people get the sleep they need.
While coughs rarely cause these sorts of symptoms, they are unpleasant when they do occur. People who are suffering from a chronic cough of any severity can attempt to find relief with over-the-counter cough medicine, tea, steam and plenty of rest. Avoiding irritants such as pollution, cigarettes and known allergens can help as well. Thankfully, coughs rarely go on for extended periods of time without cause, so people are generally able to find the cause and relieve the coughing without much trouble.