Updated 23 July 2018

How can a chronic cough be prevented?

Lower your risk for developing a chronic cough by following these steps.

It’s possible to lower your risk for chronic cough.

The following steps may help:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have respiratory tract infections.
  • Keep your hands clean, especially in autumn and winter, when flu and cold germs do the rounds.
  • Keep your immune system healthy: follow a balanced diet, exercise most days of the week, and get 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Get your annual flu shot.
  • Maintain good asthma control.
  • Seek treatment for allergies and post-nasal drip.
  • If you have tuberculosis (TB), it’s important to take your medication exactly as prescribed.
  • Get treatment for acid reflux.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke and other irritants.

Reviewed by Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit, Head of the Lung Clinical Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. MBChB, MRCP(UK), Dip HIV(Man), MMED, FCP(SA), Cert Pulm(SA), PhD. February 2018.


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others. Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute.

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