Coughing is an automatic response that is designed to protect the lungs from irritating or damaging substances. The reflex action involves rapid inhalation, closing of the throat, increased internal pressure in the chest as well as a forceful exhalation. When we cough, we use our normal breathing muscles as well as accessory respirator muscles. The normal respiratory muscles are the abdominal muscles, the muscles running between adjacent ribs (intercostal muscles), and the diaphragm. When we cough, the abdominal and the intercostal muscles tighten and the diaphragm relaxes, which builds pressure in the chest and decreases the volume of the chest cavity. Prolonged coughing can cause soreness, and sometimes even strain the muscles in the abdomen and the rib. The accessory respiratory muscles are also involved in coughing because it is a forceful action, and this can cause the muscles to become sore, hypertonic and even strained, and can come with a lot of pain. In addition to these muscles, the throat also closes off when we cough, because the air that enters the lungs needs to be controlled. These muscles can also be affected if we cough excessively. Below are some other effects of excessive coughing.
Excessive coughing can cause dizziness. The symptoms include lightheadedness, loss of balance, vertigo and fainting. It can be an uncomfortable sensation. The treatments include drinking fluids, changing posture, and taking medications like antihistamines, sedatives and nausea pills. Since dizziness is a symptom of the excessive coughing, it can disappear once the coughing subsides.
At times, excessive coughing can lead to the development of a headache. According the Medline plus, a headache is a pressure or a dull throbbing pain in the head that can either affect the entire head area. The pain can also affect certain regions, like the scalp, the temples or the back part of the neck. The duration of a headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to even a few days. The treatment for a headache depends on the severity an the causes, but when it comes to excessive coughing, the headache might be intermittent depending on the cough. Usually, some rest, adequate fluid intake and some types of exercise can help to reduce the discomfort of a headache. There are also specific medicines that have been designed to tackle headaches and they are available over the counter and don’t need a prescription. These include ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin, and can help to quell or manage mild to moderate symptoms. If the headache becomes too severe, it will need prescription medication, such as metaxolone, amitriptyline, prescription aspirin and butalbital.
3. Urinary Incontinence
Chronic coughing can lead to urinary incontinence, which is a medical condition where an individual is no longer able to control urination. In excessive coughing, it can specifically lead to incontinence caused due to stress on the body. Stress incontinence occurs when pressure is placed on the bladder, and some of the most common situations that lead to it are laughing, coughing, exercising, and even lifting a heavy object. In the case of excessive coughing, taking frequent bathroom breaks can help. Moreover, retaining the bladder by holding the urine for at least ten minutes when the need to urinate occurs can also help. Externally, limiting the intake of fluids, managing a good diet and performing pelvic exercises (such as squeezing the lower buttock muscles intermittently) have also shown to help his condition. Medications are also available, such as imipramine, topical estrogen and oxybutynin. Invasive treatments can also help, such as inserting a device called a pessary into the vagina to hold up the bladder. Talking to your doctor about treatment options can help you choose the right one.
4. Rib Fracture
A rib fracture can occur if the force of the cough is excessive for the body to handle, especially for people who have brittle bones due to conditions like osteoporosis. The symptoms include pain in the ribs when you cough, bruising or swelling at the fracture site, and pain while breathing. A chest binder can hold the broken rib in place while it heals over. The pain from the fracture can be managed with over-the-counter medications like naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen. Hospitalization might be necessary if the fractured rib punctures any important organs.