Question: Can sinus problems make you cough? My husband has been coughing for many many years, and he has so many tests done, and doctors can’t find anything wrong, but the cough won’t stop. We desperately need help and don’t know where else to go. Please help.
Thank you for your question. As I am sure you know, a persistent cough can be a vexing and debilitating problem. It is something we see quite a bit of here at the NY Sinus Center. Obviously, one of the first things to do is to make sure that the problem is not coming from the lungs- such as from pneumonia or bronchitis. I would expect that this has been done.
We at the Sinus Center see cough from several different causes.
1. Sinusitis- an infection of the sinuses can cause a persistent cough when inflamed mucous or pus drips down from the sinuses into the throat. It should certainly be evaluated by an ENT exam, nasal endoscopy and sometimes by a sinus scan (CT).
2. We frequently see a persistent, dry cough, from acid reflux. Acid can come as high as the throat, hit the vocal cords and cause an irritation that makes you cough. At the Sinus Center, we often test for this kind of reflux by our exam, but also by a 24-hour evaluation of acid exposure (pH testing).
3. One can also have a persistent cough from an irritated nerve that goes to the voice box (neurogenic cough)
4. Finally, there are even more unusual causes such as a persistent Pertussis (whooping cough) infection that we are now seeing more commonly in adults, previously vaccinated.
All of these causes are quite treatable- but the treatment recommended is different for each, and one must make the correct diagnosis for therapy to be effective.
We’d be happy to see your husband here at the NY Sinus Center and help clear things up.
Robert Pincus MD, FACS
Co-Director NY Sinus Center