Allergy Cough: Symptoms, Triggers, Preventions, & Treatments

Wouldn’t it be great to wake up and go about your day without a cough caused by allergies? These days when you cough the first thing those around you think of is, “Ahh COVID”, and it’s a pain to try and explain, “no it’s my allergies, I am allergic to (insert favorite allergen here) I swear”. Let’s work through this together and get to a place where you aren’t coughing chronically, even better, get rid of your allergy cough symptoms completely!

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allergies-affect-over-50-million-americans-each-year-fact

According to aafa.org, allergies affect over 50 million people each year. That’s a big deal!

Out of those 50 million, let’s say only 10% experience a cough as a symptom, that’s 5 million of us with a cough we need to get rid of, and shouldn’t have in the first place!

Quick story, I was miserable from a chronic allergy cough when COVID was new, and just came on the scene, and what an embarrassment to be coughing in public. Not just in “public” but family members and co-workers gave me some funny looks as well.

I had to do something.

I started knocking out these steps that I am about to share with you and FINALLY kicked my cough to the curb.

Can allergies cause a chronic cough?

Yes, allergies can absolutely cause chronic coughing. Conditions like hay fever and asthma are usually the culprit of your allergy-related coughing. There are other medical conditions besides allergies that can cause chronic coughing as well.

Coughing (chronic or acute) typically happens because of irritation in your nasal passages, throat, or airways. Irritation in these areas causes mucus production, as the mucus is trying to protect your body from damage.

Excess or chronic mucus production is your body’s way to try and flush out your allergens.

What is considered a chronic cough?

Chronic cough definition infographic - "A chronic cough is considered chronic when you have a cough that lasts 8 weeks or longer.
Definition Source: cancer.gov, 2022

A chronic cough is considered chronic (long-lasting) when you have a cough that lasts 8 weeks or longer.

Know Your Allergy Triggers

Being able to pinpoint what is causing your symptoms is the first step in getting allergy cough relief. Your allergy cough and other related symptoms stem from your allergy triggers.

Common Allergy Triggers

  • Pollen from trees, grasses, weeds
  • Dust (dust mites)
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Cockroaches (and other insects)
  • Foods
  • Latex
  • Chemicals
  • Medications

If you do not know what is causing your allergies you may need to follow up with your primary care physician, ENT specialist, or Allergist.

common-allergy-triggers-infographic-Pollen Dust/Dust Mites Pet Dander Mold Foods Cockroaches Latex Chemicals Medications

How to Prevent an Allergen-Related Chronic Cough

Preventing your allergy-related symptoms is the best offense and defense against allergies. By using prevention techniques, you are taking care of the issue at the source and not just treating the symptoms.

Some of these prevention options may or may not be possible in your specific situation, but I bet there is at least one thing on this list that you haven’t tried yet.

Avoidance

Whether your allergy cough is triggered by pollen, mold, or dander, avoiding what is causing this allergic response is the best way to prevent and treat your cough long-term.

Understandably, you will not be able to avoid your triggers all the time.

Just be mindful and do the best you can! For me, I would have to live in a bubble because I am allergic to the great outdoors, complete avoidance is not happening.

Clean Often

Depending on your allergy triggers, cleaning often is effective in helping to reduce the allergic response that may be causing your cough. Allergens like to become airborne, but eventually, they will settle down somewhere.

Giving all the rooms, and even your vehicles a good cleaning with a non-toxic cleaner (check out 20 Reasons Force of Nature Cleaner is Legit if you are in the market) will greatly reduce allergens that can potentially become airborne again once disturbed.

Remove Dust

Ensure you have a quality duster that can be washed or is disposable so you aren’t transferring the dust to other areas of the house. Feather dusters are not a good choice as they don’t really hold onto the dust, they just push it around.

Remember to dust these areas to reduce allergy-related coughing

  • Dust all horizontal surfaces
  • Tables
  • Counters
  • Desks
  • Bookcases
  • Entertainment centers
  • Dressers & nightstands
  • Headboards
  • Ceiling fans

Sweep and Vacuum Often

Sweeping and vacuuming often will reduce the number of allergens inside your home, which will bring you closer to finding relief.

*Make sure your vacuum is equipped with a HEPA filter!!*

hepa-filter-visual

A HEPA filter is very important when it comes to allergens and vacuuming. Vacuums that do not have an actual HEPA filter are picking up allergens from the floor and blowing them around the house.

You may have a HEPA vacuum, but are still coughing and sneezing after vacuuming. If this is the case it may be time for a replacement filter.

Keep Your Windows Closed

This one is no fun when you want that crisp morning air, but it is crucial especially if you have seasonal allergies. When your windows are open you are letting the allergens right into your home.

When you are in your vehicle you will want to keep your windows closed as well.

Utilizing the circulate air button will limit allergens from being brought into the vehicle, and it will also filter the air through your cabin air filter.

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Ensure you change your cabin air filter in accordance with the recommendation of your vehicle, and/or sooner.

Take Off Your Shoes When You Go Inside

Foot traffic in and out of the house brings allergen hitchhikers into your home. Allergens like to travel, and when you are walking around the house with mowing shoes or hiking boots, you may be leaving sprinklings of cough-inducing triggers throughout your home.

Change Your Clothes

Now this one is hard to keep up with but if you have been out and about, and around your allergy triggers they are going to be in your clothes. When you come in for the day I recommend a changing of clothes before you sit on that comfy couch.

Take a Shower

Taking a shower every time you change your clothes can be excessive, but shoot for showering before you hop into bed at a minimum. This recommendation pairs well with changing your clothes.

Most of us have hair, some of us have thick and long hair. Allergens love to hang out with us, on our skin, and in that beautiful hair. The last thing you want to do is not shower and bring those allergens into your bed, pillow, and mattress.

Not showing before getting in those cozy sheets could make for chronically miserable nights.

Take a shower, get a reset from the allergens, and take the step closer to allergy cough freedom.

Invest in a True HEPA Air Purifier

A true HEPA air purifier filters out 99.97% of all particles down to .03 microns (microscopic) pollen, dander, mold, and even some viruses are much larger than .03, microns.

For our family (and maybe yours) it is a must to have an air purifier. It has been the #1 passive device that has given me and my family allergy relief (even our coughs) without the use of medications or drastic lifestyle changes.

Our air purifier is part of the family.

If you don’t know where to start with an air purifier, check out my review and see if this highly effective AND affordable HEPA filter is right for you. WINIX PlasmaWave 5500-2 True HEPA Air Purifier Review

The true in “True HEPA” refers to an actually HEPA filter. DO NOT consider a filter that states, something like this:

“Highly efficient filter”

“HEPA-like performance”

“Filters 93%+ of particles”

Locate and Replace All The Filters in Your Home, Often

Filters are around to… well… filter. You will want to make sure that you keep filters clean and/or replace them as needed. A dirty filter will lead to poor performance and increase the risk of not filtering out cough-causing allergens/spreading them everywhere. Plus a clogged filter is much harder on the machine.

Furnace or HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning) Unit

This machine is pumping air all around your house. This filter definitely needs to be replaced often. If you live in an apartment or rental, the landlord or maintenance crew can help you with locating and installing a new filter.

HVAC filters are not designed to remove small particles like a HEPA filter, but changing the filter will still help.

Air Conditioning Window Units

Most A/C units have some sort of filter which is usually washable. The more often you run your A/C the more often you may want to clean it.

Vacuum cleaners, Including Robot Vacuums

In general, you need a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. This is going to trap all the allergens you suck up around the house. Vacuums tend to have more than one filter, and some are washable.

Ensure you are giving TLC to all the filters on your machines.

Most robot vacuums just have one HEPA filter that needs to be replaced. Look in the instruction manual (or google) for filter replacement recommendations set by the manufacturer.

Cabin Air filter (Filter in Your Car)

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Your vehicle has a cabin air filter. This filter removes particles from the air drawn into the car from outside, as well as filters your inside air when you hit that circulate air button.

This filter is almost always located behind the glove box.

Sometimes this is a pain to get to, but you can do this yourself! Many oil change outfits will charge $60+ for something you can do in 5 or 10 minutes for under $20.

Air Purifier Filter

If you are running an air purifier in your home, you need to change and clean these filters accordingly. The sole purpose of these air purifiers is to purify the air, ensure they are running in tip-top shape by sticking to the cleaning/replacement schedule.

Treatment Options for Allergy-Related Coughing

Treatment is sometimes unavoidable when we are confronted with symptoms that interfere with our day-to-day lives. Here are a few options you can consider, and discuss with your medical provider.

Neti Pots®/Nasal Rinses

This one isn’t for everyone, but it does work! A nasal rinse flushes out your sinuses with a natural saline solution (it doesn’t burn when done correctly) which rinses out all of the mucus and potential build-up of allergens inside your nasal cavities. A nasal rinse also calms inflammation so your body can regain control.

If interested, this is the exact nasal rinse I use from Amazon. It’s cheap, effective, and natural.

Nasal Steroids

Chronic cough treatment may be resolved with the use of a nasal steroid.

Nasal steroids like Flonase®, take some time to build up and work, so you won’t see immediate results but you should see symptom Improvements rather quickly. Flonase.com says it takes 12 hours to 1 week to really see big improvements. If you are still having symptoms after one week, they recommend you go see your doctor.

I have used Flonase for 10+ years without any issues or side effects. Flonase can be found over-the-counter, and you can snag some from Amazon.com

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are the “anti” to Histamine, and Histamine is responsible for allergen inflammatory response (in short, it’s actually quite complicated). Luckily for us allergy sufferers, there are these wonderful antihistamines on the market!

Common antihistamines brands are Benedryl®, Zyrtec®, Claritin®, and Zxyzal®. Find what works best for you. The perk with antihistamines is they start working right away!

I take antihistamines most days, and I have been on Claritin for the last few years with no issues.

Investigate Allergy Shots

Another avenue you can take to limit, or get rid of that pesky allergy cough is starting allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. I am currently going through this process right now, and I am at 2 years in. I have seen improvement, and I have been able to stop some medications.

This is a more lengthy and long-term process but the benefits may outweigh the risks.

The basic allergy shot process is this:

  • Allergist tests to find what you are allergic to
  • Allergist creates a shot with small amounts of the allergens
  • You receive the shots (up to) a few times a month

Each time you come in for your shot, the dose amount is typically increased as you build a tolerance. Eventually, your body should start seeing improvements (some folks in 3-6 months, some within a year, some never)

Final thoughts

Knowing what your allergy triggers are is the first step to solving your chronic allergy cough. Next, do what you can to prevent exposure to allergens. Finally, discuss with your doc the proper treatment options for you.

Check these out next if you are…

In the Market for a HEPA filter: WINIX PlasmaWave 5500-2 True HEPA Air Purifier Review

Not quite sure it’s a cough from allergies: 35 Effective Bronchitis Home Remedies

Looking for all-natural/non-toxic disinfectant spray: 20 Reasons Force of Nature Cleaner is Legit

By Chris

Chris is the creator of Allergy Preventions. As an allergy sufferer himself, his vision is to help others find relief from allergies. By combining his 14 years of Public Health experience, personal experience, and his thirst for knowledge, he is dedicated to providing quality recommendations to assist families with allergy symptom relief.