Coughing is the way your body protects itself from allergens. Allergens such as pollen, mould spores, pet dander, and dust mites can trigger a cough. Allergies can cause post-nasal drip or an inflammation in the sinuses that can also trigger a cough. Fortunately, you can take steps to relieve your coughing and other allergy symptoms.
Make an appointment with an allergist if your cough lasts longer than three to eight weeks; if you also have asthma; or if you have untreated nasal allergy symptoms. Your allergist may want to perform tests. If your allergies are severe, he may want you to get allergy shots to help your body build immunity against allergens. He may also want to do a pulmonary lung function test to see if your allergic cough is due to asthma.
Ask your doctor if he suggests prescribing medicines such as an oral steroid, Singulair (a leukotrine modifier), Allegra D (a non-sedating antihistamine with decongestant), corticosteroid or antihistamine nasal sprays to help reduce your nasal allergy symptoms, or an inhaled bronchodilator and corticosteroid to open your airways. Also ask if you should try over-the-counter cough suppressants to calm your cough, and a medication with guaifenesin to thin the secretions in your airways.
Stop your postnasal drip. Avoid smoke, dust, pollen, mould, freshly cut grass, pets and chemical and cleaning fumes. Ask your allergist if you should take an over-the-counter antihistamine-decongestant to stop your postnasal drip. Ask your doctor for a prescription for ipratropium bromide nasal spray that dries up nasal secretions. Use nasal saline spray each morning and night to clean allergens and mucus out of your nasal passages.
Implement allergen avoidance measures to prevent allergy symptoms that cause your cough. Make your house dust-, pollen- and mould-free. Avoid being outside or opening your windows during high pollen count days. Don't hang your laundry outside to dry where it can accumulate pollen. Shower and wash your hair every night so you don't go to bed with pollens and allergens that have accumulated during the day. Wash your bedding in hot water to kill dust mites. Don't let your pet sleep in your bedroom.