Cough variant asthma (CVA) is a subtype of asthma, which presents solely with a cough without any other symptoms such as dyspnea or wheezing. CVA is one of the most common causes of a chronic cough. More importantly, 30 to 40 percent of CVA cases in adult patients, unless adequately treated, may progress to classic asthma.
CVA shares some pathophysiological features with classic asthma, such as atopy, airway hyper-responsiveness, eosinophilic airway inflammation, and various elements of airway remodeling.
The chronic cough that characterizes CVA is usually dry and unproductive and often tends to worsen at night. A nonproductive cough such as this does not expel any mucus from the respiratory tract and can last six to eight weeks.
CVA is a milder form of asthma. Children are more likely than adults to have this type of asthma. This condition is often triggered by exposure to specific allergens and environmental factors or activities such as strong odors, pollen, cold air, exercise, and dust. In fact, patients with CVA are also likely to suffer from other allergic conditions, such as drug and food allergies, eczema, and hay fever.
Dry and unproductive coughing can cause sleep disruption, exhaustion, cracked or fractured ribs, vomiting, and light-headedness. Moreover, the continued strain on your air tubes can cause them to become narrow and swollen, which disrupts the flow of air to and from the lungs. However, the risk of severe airway narrowing is lower with this type of asthma than with regular chronic asthma.
It is easy to confuse a persistent cough induced by a CVA flare-up as an allergy or a lingering cold, but what sets this condition apart from the other two is that the cough associated with CVA does not involve coughing up sputum and does not subside until you get diagnosed and treated for it. The fact that CVA can progress to a more severe, chronic asthma if not adequately attended to makes the need for diagnosis all the more imperative.
Just like standard chronic asthma, experts are still not sure what causes CVA. However, experts believe that exposure to allergens, such as mold spores, pollen, dust, pet dander, and strong fragrances, may lead to its onset. Coughing is a way to expel unwanted substances or irritants from the respiratory tract. However, in the case of CVA, the other possible reasons may include the following:
People who have another allergic condition, regular asthma, or a relative with asthma are at a higher risk for CVA. Other risk factors include:
CVA is comparatively less damaging to normal lung function than a classic case of regular asthma, but the chronic dry cough that comes with it can be quite a nuisance.
Some of the common disruptions associated with it include:
All of these together can take a massive toll on you and have damaging consequences for both your personal and professional lives.
Moreover, prolonged negligence of this condition can give rise to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and can hamper your lung function to a significant degree. Poorly managed CVA can also lead to other serious complications that may be fatal, such as:
If CVA is not treated and managed correctly, it may progress into classic asthma. According to a study published in Current Respiratory Medicine Reviews in 2011, 30 percent to 40 percent of CVA cases in adult patients, unless adequately treated, may progress to classic asthma.
CVA is treated in the same way as regular asthma, given both of them engender the same effect on the airways and the lungs, only differing in severity. There are a number of treatment options, and the doctor may prescribe any or a combination of the following:
Some options might give you better results than others, and thus the treatment strategy can vary from person to person. You will have to work closely with your doctor to come up with one that suits you best.
“Backention is better than cure” might seem like a cliché, but in the case of CVA, it rings significantly true. In fact, perhaps the best treatment for CVA is to proactively prevent the condition from flaring up in the first place. To that end, you must swear by your doctor-prescribed medication to stave off coughing episodes and keep your state from worsening.
Treatment for CVA is not difficult if the problem is diagnosed early. Many simple and effective home remedies can provide relief from the CVA-related dry cough and help you get better, faster.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for CVA.
Salt water is a good home remedy for alleviating irritation in the throat, a common by-product of constant coughing.
This beneficial effect rests on the principle of homeostasis and osmosis. The saline solution will suck in the moisture from the inflamed throat and, thereby, bring down the swelling. Moreover, gargling with warm salt water has been found to be effective in preventing upper respiratory tract infections, which can often trigger a CVA episode.
Oregano is another effective remedy for a dry cough associated with CVA. This herb contains antispasmodic, antibacterial, and expectorant properties that help clear mucus from the lungs and ease dry coughing.
Honey is another very effective natural cure for CVA. The sweetness of honey stimulates your salivary glands to produce more saliva, which in turn lubricates your airways, easing your cough. It also has antioxidant properties that fight inflammation and boost immunity.
As store-bought honey often comes packed with additional taste-enhancing ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup or sugar, it’s best to visit a local health store to get premium-quality unadulterated raw honey.
Ginger is a popular natural treatment for various ailments, including asthma and CVA.
Being an excellent expectorant, it can help reduce the intensity and the duration of coughing bouts. It also helps reduce airway inflammation and inhibit airway contraction.
Moreover, it has immune-boosting properties that promote quick recovery.
Lemons can also be used to cure a dry cough, the single most prominent symptom of CVA. Lemons have properties that reduce inflammation, and they also provide a dose of infection-fighting vitamin C.
In fact, vitamin C has been proven to be especially useful against common cold-induced asthma. It works by curbing the release of histamines in the body, which in turn prevents excessive allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
Garlic is also an effective healing agent for the management of CVA. It acts as a natural expectorant, which helps provide quick relief from dry coughing.
Garlic also helps keep the air passages open and reduces the contraction of the airway muscles, which in turn promote better breathing. Plus, garlic helps bolster your immune system, which is just the thing you need for a speedy recovery.
Turmeric can also be used to treat CVA. It has a therapeutic effect on coughs, mainly dry coughs. It also reduces inflammation in the airways, which aids the healing process. Owing to its antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has been proven to be effective for the treatment of bronchial asthma as well.
Its immune-boosting property also helps your body fight infections.
Smoking is one of the known triggers for CVA. Smoking or breathing in secondhand smoke irritates your lungs and can worsen coughs. Hence, it is highly recommended that you should quit smoking without delay.
Moreover, you should also make sure that you stay away from environments and situations where you may be subjected to passive smoke.
Start by making your own home a strictly cigarette-free zone by asking your family, friends, and visitors to avoid smoking in your vicinity. Not only will this save you from the secondhand smoke, but this will also help you remain resolute in your decision to stay off cigarettes.
Furthermore, avoid public places that permit smoking and stay at a smoke-free hotel when traveling.
This rule does not apply to cigarette smoke alone. You must go a step ahead and try to minimize exposure to smoke that comes from incense, candles, fires, and fireworks.
A very common trigger for CVA is exposure to pollen. To reduce your coughing, you must pay attention to the air quality reports and avoid highly polluted areas that can worsen your condition.
When suffering from CVA, rigorous or prolonged exercise is not a wise decision. Conversely, resigning yourself to a completely sedentary lifestyle is also not the way to go.
Instead of oscillating between two extremes, its best to take the middle path and incorporate mild-to-moderate workouts or activities. The idea is to get your regular fill of physical exercise without working up your hypersensitive airways.
An appropriate dose of physical activity is just as crucial for people with CVA as for anyone else. In fact, regular exercise can strengthen your immunity and help fight this condition and other diseases in the long run.
Instead of following a vigorous workout plan, try yoga, leisurely biking, moderate-to-brisk walking, swimming, and weight-training workouts.
You can also play sports such as golf, baseball, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, and other racquet sports that involve short and intermittent periods of exertion.
Before doing any exercise, start with a warm-up period. Also, exercise inside when the pollen count is high.
Answered by Dr. Laren Tan, MD (Pulmonologist)
Cough variant asthma can vary throughout one’s life, although symptoms may lessen or the individual may have learned to cope with the symptoms, coughing can worsen when exposed to an irritant of the airways.
Cough variant asthma is very much like asthma except the only persistent symptom when left untreated is a chronic cough. The treatment for cough variant asthma parallels the treatment for asthma. Cough variant asthma typically involves ‘maintenance inhalers’ to decrease airway inflammation.
The trigger can vary from individual to individual, some of the more common causes are tobacco smoke, pollen, strong odors and chemical fumes.
Avoidance of the irritant that triggers the cough should always be a top priority but there are times when its not possible or the irritant that causes the cough is unknown, in those cases inhaler use has the potential to lessen or stop the cough.
There are many causes for cough and seeking medical attention for a lingering cough can be most beneficial for you to live a more normal life.
About Dr. Laren Tan, MD: Dr. Tan is a medical doctor who practices at Loma Linda University Health, CA. He is an expert in the fields of Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine. Dr. Tan has authored numerous journal articles in the field of obstructive airway diseases, critical care and medical innovation.
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