Pop Quiz: Is It Chronic Cough Due to Allergies, or Something Else?

Get to the Bottom of Your Chronic Cough By Answering these Questions

Most people don’t consider a little cough something that is serious enough to see the doctor about.  However, once the cough sticks around for a few weeks, most people start to get concerned.  If you’ve got a chronic cough, take our quiz below to explore exactly what the issue could be, and what to do about it.

  • A cough is deemed “chronic” if it has lasted how long?


  1. Four weeks
  2. Six weeks
  3. Eight weeks
  4. Ten weeks


  • How many doctor’s visits in the U.S. are due to a chronic cough?


  1. One in every three visits
  2. One quarter of visits
  3. One in every five visits
  4. One in every 10 visits
  5. None of the Above


  • Fill in the blank: The leading cause for a chronic cough is _____________.


  1. Smoking
  2. A cold
  3. A tickle in the throat
  4. Something “going down the wrong pipe.”
  5. None of the Above.


  • True or False?  Benign medical issues— when compared with cancer— are responsible for most chronic coughs in nonsmokers.



  • Which is not one of the other four reasons out of the top five reasons for a chronic cough?


  1. Asthma
  2. Laryngitis
  3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis and emphysema
  4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn
  5. Respiratory tract infection, including cold, flu, pneumonia, and the postnasal drip caused by the infection


  • Other explanations behind a chronic cough include which of the following? (Choose all that apply)


  1. Acute bronchitis
  2. Air pollution
  3. Pertussis/Whooping Cough
  4. Tonsillitis
  5. ACE Inhibitors, medication for high blood pressure and heart failure


  • Which of the following is not a time you should see your doctor about a cough?


  1. If the cough lasts for at least eight weeks
  2. If the cough is different from any other cough you’ve ever had
  3. If the cough is associated with symptoms of asthma
  4. If the cough is associated with nasal symptoms and/or tobacco use
  5. If the cough is affecting your life in a disruptive manner


  • Which type of doctor is best equipped to diagnose the culprit behind a chronic cough?


  1. A throat doctor
  2. A family provider
  3. A general practitioner
  4. An allergist


  • True or False?  Treatments for chronic coughing are lengthy and expensive.



  • A cough is likely more serious if it’s accompanied by which of the following symptoms?


  1. Fever and/or night sweats
  2. Wheezing or shortness of breath
  3. Coughing up a lot of sputum or any amount of blood
  4. Weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss
  5. All of the Above



Information provided by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (aaaai.org), Health.com, Harvard Health Publications (health.harvard.edu), America College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (acai.org), and The Mayo Clinic.



  1. C. Eight weeks.  Most medical definitions term a chronic cough as one that has lasted at least eight weeks.
  2. C. One in every five visits.  Having a persistent cough is so common it’s responsible for 20 percent of all doctor’s visits.
  3. A. Smoking.  Most cigarette smokers eventually develop a chronic “smoker’s cough” from chemical irritation.
  4. True.  It’s very rare that a nonsmoker’s cough would be caused by lung cancer.  Most nonsmokers develop a cough for nonthreatening reasons.
  5. B. Laryngitis.  The top four reasons for a chronic cough, besides smoking, are asthma, GERD, COPD, and a respiratory tract infection that causes postnasal drip.
  6. A, B, C, and E.  Chronic coughs can also be caused by acute bronchitis, air pollution, Pertussis (also known as Whooping Cough), and the use of ACE Inhibitors, which are medications prescribed for high blood pressure and heart failure.
  7. B. If the cough is different from any other cough you’ve ever had.  See your doctor if one or more of the other factors apply to you and your chronic cough.
  8. D. An allergist.  Allergists have experience with allergies, asthma and GERD, all of which are main culprits of chronic coughs.
  9. False.  Treatments for chronic cough vary, from home remedies like saline and over-the-counter medications to treatment for asthma and surgery on the sinuses.
  10. E. All of the Above.  See your doctor right away if your lingering cough is accompanied by any of the symptoms listed.


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