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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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8 Reasons Your Cough Is Not Improving

Reason 5: Overusing OTC Nasal Decongestant Spray

Over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant sprays may help with a stuffy nose. Don't use them for more than 3 days, though. If you do, when you finally stop taking them, your symptoms may be worse -- a rebound effect. Those excess sprays make your nasal membranes swell, which triggers more congestion, postnasal drip, and coughing.

Reason 6: Air That's Too Dry or Too Moist

"Dry air -- especially common in the winter -- can irritate a cough," Edelman says. On the other hand, cranking up the humidifier too high isn't helpful, either. Moist air can be a trigger for asthma and encourage the growth of dust mites and mold, allergens that may start you hacking.

"People should aim for humidity levels of 40% to 50% in their homes, winter and summer," Edelman says.

Reason 7: Bacterial Infection

Sometimes, a cold can leave behind an unwelcome parting gift. When your airways are raw and irritated after a cold, it's easier for bacteria to invade. Bacteria can cause sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. If you have a fever or pain along with your lingering cough, a bacterial infection could be the reason. See your doctor, as you may need to take an antibiotic.

Reason 8: Your Blood Pressure Medicine

Do you take an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure? If so, that may be why your cough won't quit. About 1 out of 5 people who take ACE inhibitors develop a chronic, dry cough as a side effect. If you have this side effect, don't just stop taking it but do talk to your doctor. Another drug may work better for you. There are many available ACE inhibitors, including:

If the generic name of your medicine or any ingredient in your combination medicine ends with "pril," there's a good chance it's an ACE inhibitor.

If your cough is severe or isn’t getting better after a week, call your doctor. Together, you can find out what’s causing your cough and make sure you get the right treatment.

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Reviewed on July 02, 2015

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