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Asthma & Allergy Articles

Cough Variant Asthma

Asthma is primarily characterized by obstruction of airflow. Based on its etiology, there are various types of Asthma. Cough variant asthma is very common in children and it is characterized by dry, unproductive cough (mucus is not expelled from the respiratory tract). It is basically a milder form of asthma. Cough variant asthma generally can develop into classic asthma within four years if not treated.

Symptoms of Cough Variant Asthma

Cough variant asthma doesn’t have classic symptoms like wheezing or shortening of breath. If the person coughs during the night time, it is considered as night time asthma as it can interrupt the sleep. If the cough stays for more than six to eight weeks, it is considered to be chronic. The cough generally increases while doing exercise, which is considered as exercise-induced asthma. Cough can get triggered by allergens like fumes, dust, strong smell, cold air, etc. Cough does not produce mucus. Chough can lead to chest pain and coughing of blood in very serious conditions. Cough can also increase due to weather conditions like extreme cold or humidity. If the cough variant asthma is not treated for long, this can lead to various complications like

  • Decreased lung function
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Permanent narrowing of bronchoesophagal pathways
  • Pneumonia


  • Sleep problem
  • Exhaustion
  • Vomiting
  • Problem in urinating
  • Head spinning
  • Sinusitis
  • Aspirin sensitivity

Diagnosis of cough variant asthma

Cough variant asthma is difficult to diagnose as it only exhibitsthe coughing symptom. So, Cough variant asthma need to be confirmed by different tests and does not have any signs or symptoms of classic asthma. The tests are –

  • Lung(pulmonary) function test which includes
    • Spirometry – This is nothing but a 15 min test in which you will have to take deep breaths and forcefully exhale into the hose which is connected to the machine called spirometer.
    • Peak flow measurement – Here, how fast a person can force out air from the lungs is measured in a small device is known as peak flow measurement.
  • Challenge test – A test with aerosol containing small amount of methacholinethat triggers coughing and bronchospasms. This test is done after the lung function test.


If the cough lasts for more than eight weeks without any distinct cause,the patient should seek treatment to avoid any complication. The treatment plan is same as other asthma types –

Long Term Control Medication

  • Inhaled corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory drug – this helps in prevention of swelling in the airways
  • Leukotriene
  • Long-actingbeta-adrenergic agonist

Short Term Medication

  • Short-actingbeta-adrenergic agonist
  • Oral and intravenous corticosteroids that helps in maintain in opening of airway
  • Inhalers relieves from sudden asthmatic attacks


Prevention of the Cough-variant asthma is mainly done by preventing the symptoms as prevention has always been better than cure. Again, complications may also arise which can be fatal as well. To lower the risks, the following preventions should be taken-

  • Prescribed medications should be taken on time
  • Maintain healthy lifestyle
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid occupational, environmental allergens that trigger
  • Follow regular check-up