Cough variant asthma (CVA) is a type of asthma in which the main symptom experienced is a dry nonproductive asthmatic cough that doesn't produce any mucus. People who suffer from this asthmatic cough usually do not suffer from the other traditional symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. Coughing and asthma are usually seen together, but in this form it is only the chronic asthma cough that plagues the patient. It's often confused with other conditions that also have coughing as a primary symptom.
Cough variant asthma is also called dry cough asthma (because there is no mucus produced) or chronic asthma cough. It is considered a chronic coughing condition when the symptoms persist for a period longer than six to eight weeks. With CVA, the coughing symptoms can affect a person both during the day and during the night. People who suffer cough variant asthma at night usually have interrupted sleep patterns. Most people with CVA notice a worsening of their symptoms when partaking in exercise or physical activities. Just like "classic" asthma, CVA symptoms can be induced by environmental factors, such as exposure to allergens (like pet dander, pollen, mold, or dust), occupational irritants (like chemicals, gases, or industrial dust) or things like dry and cold weather or extreme heat.
It's possible for anyone to develop a chronic asthma cough at any point in their life, but it usually occurs in younger children who show other signs of asthma as well. Somebody with symptoms of cough variant asthma is more likely to develop the standard type of asthma with the standard symptoms of coughing and wheezing. The risk factors are closely related to standard asthma. People who have experienced respiratory infections in their childhood and have allergies or eczema are more likely to develop cough variant asthma. The genetic probability of developing cough variant asthma is high if one or both parents suffer from classic asthma or cough variant asthma.
As with standard typical asthma, nobody is sure what the exact cause of cough variant asthma is. However, symptoms may be triggered by allergies or exposure to other environmental triggers. It's also common for people to develop a chronic cough after experiencing a respiratory infection from the flu or a cold or other illness. Cough variant asthma is sometimes a side effect of a high blood pressure and heart disease drug called beta blockers. Beta blockers treat heart problems, as well as migraines and other conditions. If you are taking beta blocker drugs and experience a chronic cough, it may be a side effect of the drug. Some people also have a high sensitivity to aspirin can experience cough variant asthma when taking aspirin based drugs.
It may be challenging for doctors to diagnose cough variant asthma, because of the singular symptomatic nature of the condition. It may seem like another condition with a similar symptom like bronchitis or postnasal drip cough. A doctor will give you a physical exam a spirometry (asthma breathing test) exam- but with CVA the results often turn up normal and negative for classic asthma. If previous testing does not give any results, your doctor can use a methacholine challenge test to determine whether asthma is the actual cause of your symptoms. This test involves inhaling methacholine, and if asthma is the cause of the condition, your airways will spasm as a result. This test is positive if lung function decreases by 20% when the methacholine is inhaled. At the end of the test a bronchodilator is used to reverse the effects on your airways. This kind of testing might require a special facility.
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