What is cough variant asthma?
That cough may not be caused by dust in the air. It may be a form of asthma.
What is cough variant asthma?
A cough can be more than just a cough. In some cases, it can be the main symptom of a certain form of asthma. Cough-variant asthma (CVA) is this condition. Its main symptom is a dry, non-productive cough. It can be chronic and be the cause of other respiratory ailments, including the “classic” form of asthma.
Although unusual, it is not uncommon. It tends to strike children, and can act as a precursor to other respiratory ailments such as infections and sinusitis – common side effects of “classic” or “typical” asthma.
Coughing appears to be the only symptom of this ailment; whereas classic asthma will have other symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. The type of cough associated with CVA is a persistent dry, non-productive cough. This type of cough is usually one that does not expel mucus from the respiratory system. Also, this cough may be chronic, meaning it may last six to eight weeks.
Since the presence of coughing is often associated with other ailments, diagnosing it is difficult. In some cases, it’s a process of elimination. The prolonged, chronic cough and the lack of mucus are some of the markers to be used in diagnosing CVA. A thorough diagnosis of CVA may require the following:
Chronic cough is not due to any other causes.
Positive Methacholine inhalation challenge (MIC),
and Positive response (improvement/resolution of symptoms) with traditional asthma therapy (MacNaughton, 2010).
As a result of its difficult diagnosis, many people with CVA must wait longer for the final result. This can have consequences. The added delay may result in an untreated cough which can lead to possible inflammation in the airways.
There’s no definite cause for CVA; only some speculations as to what may cause it. In this instance, it is similar to classic asthma, considering no cause is really verified for it, either.
Still, there’s evidence that some of the causes are due to environmental factors. Coughing may start after people with CVA are exposed to allergens, or when they are breathing in cold air (Web MD, 2010). CVA may increase during exercise or to exposure to asthma triggers or allergy-causing substances like dust or strong fragrances. Even cigarette smoke has been attributed to its cause.
Another likely culprit is the reaction some patients have to medication. Beta-blocker drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, migraines, palpitations, and other conditions have been present in CVA patients.
Also, beta-blocker drugs can be found in eye drops to treat glaucoma. Another factor that has been fairly observed in some CVA patients is their reaction to aspirin.
Treatment for CVA is similar to classic asthma. Inhalers with albuterol, ipratropium, and/or inhaled steroids (as anti-inflammatory agents) are commonly used. Improvement will be gradual and may take up to six to eight weeks.
1.“Asthma Guide: Cough-Variant Asthma (retrieved 2010)”: Web MD: www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/cough-variant-asthma
2. MacNaughton, Kathleen, R.N.(retrieved 2010): “Cough Varient Asthma: When a Cough is Not Just a Cough”: About.com: http://asthma.about.com/lw/Health-Medicine/Condition s-and-diseases/Cough-Variant-Asthma.htm