Cough if you have an allergy


The so-called allergic cough can occur as an accompanying symptom with certain allergies. It is often difficult to distinguish such an allergic cough from a cough that occurs, for example, as part of a cold or a flu-like effect. The allergic cough must be differentiated from the cough, which can occur as an accompanying symptom in bronchial asthma. Both the cause, diagnosis and therapy of these two types of cough differ significantly.

What to do against an allergic cough

A cough that occurs as part of an allergy is treated with the same measures as the other allergy symptoms.

  • In the acute phase so-called Antihistamines for use. These are drugs that reduce the effects of histamine in the body and thus alleviate allergic symptoms. It is taken in tablet form.
  • Local application of cortisone preparations can also be helpful for local symptoms such as runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
  • Inhalations with table salt can have a soothing effect on the cough. Essential oils as additives should be avoided, however, as they can additionally irritate the already irritated mucous membranes.
  • In allergic bronchial asthma, drugs are often used that dilate the narrowed airways. These can be used as a spray or as an additive for inhalation. This often leads to an improvement in the cough that occurs in the context of asthma.
  • In addition to the active ingredients that widen the airways, there are also preparations containing cortisone that have an anti-inflammatory effect when used over a longer period of time.
  • As a long-term therapy of the allergic cough there is the possibility of Desensitization. Here, the smallest doses of allergens are injected under the skin at regular intervals. The allergen doses are slowly increased until the body is "immune" to the allergen at some point and no longer reacts as strongly.

Learn more at:

  • Desensitization
  • Home remedies for coughs

When do you need cortisone?

Preparations containing cortisone are rarely used for allergic coughs because they are usually not necessary. However, they can be very helpful for some forms of allergic cough, especially coughs that occur in the context of bronchial asthma. The cortisone is then not used in tablet form but as a spray or as an additive to an inhalation.

If the use of a cortisone preparation is necessary, it is important that the preparation is used regularly. Because inhaled cortisone preparations do not develop their effect immediately but only when used regularly. The attending physician decides whether the use of a cortisone preparation is necessary in the case of an allergic cough.

Read on below: Nasal spray with cortisone

What can be done to avoid an allergic cough?

In order to avoid an allergic cough, contact with the substance causing the allergy must be consistently prevented. In the case of some allergies, such avoidance is possible, for example in the case of known food allergies, animal hair allergies or a known house dust allergy.

In the case of a pollen allergy, however, such avoidance is usually not possible. Here you can only take regular seasonal medication or one Desensitization To remedy the situation.

Concomitant symptoms

Various symptoms can occur in the context of an allergy.

With a pollen allergy or house dust allergy, symptoms such as watery, itchy, reddened eyes, a cold nose (Rhinitis) and increased sneezing. Allergy-related sore throats are also not uncommon.

In the case of food allergies, accompanying symptoms such as swelling of the mouth and throat, itchy mucous membranes, itchy rashes in the skin area as well as diarrhea and vomiting can occur.


Coughs that occur as part of an allergy are usually dry. In comparison, infections of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis or pneumonia often lead to coughing with expectoration of mucus, which is referred to as productive cough. In bronchial asthma, too, an asthma attack often leads to increased mucus production.
Thus, coughing without phlegm is a sign of an allergic cough.


Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways caused by over-sensitivity of the bronchi. In many patients, certain allergens trigger an asthma attack, which is referred to as allergic asthma.

Compared to a "normal" pollen allergy with watery eyes and a runny nose, asthma also has attacks with acute shortness of breath. Coughing is also a very common symptom. In an acute asthma attack, the cough can be productive, i.e. with expectoration of mucus. Asthmatics often suffer from a dry, tickly cough between attacks.

Find out more at: bronchial asthma

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath can be a symptom of an allergic reaction. However, shortness of breath is rather rare in the case of allergies that occur in normal severity. The exception to this is allergic bronchial asthma. In an acute attack, there is often shortness of breath caused by a narrowing of the airways.

An excessive allergic reaction, the so-called anaphylactic shock, can also lead to acute shortness of breath. This is caused by a rapid swelling of the airways as a reaction to a triggering allergen. If such shortness of breath occurs as part of an allergy, a doctor should be consulted immediately, as an allergic narrowing of the airways can be life-threatening.

Why does an allergy cause a cough?

In the context of an allergy, the organism reacts to a substance that is actually harmless, but is classified as potentially dangerous by the body. So this stuff becomes Allergen and triggers an immune response. With many allergies, for example hay fever (pollen allergy) or food allergies, the messenger substance histamine, which is formed in the body's own cells, plays an essential role. In addition to histamine, other messenger substances are produced that bind to receptors in body cells. Here they trigger the allergy symptoms.

Depending on the way in which the allergen “penetrates”, the allergy symptoms can appear in different parts of the body. In pollen allergies, the allergen enters the airways through the mouth and nose. The body's immune system reacts excessively to this by releasing various messenger substances in this area of ​​the body. This leads to irritation of the bronchi, which is caused by a narrowing of the airways (shortness of breath) and can express it through coughing.

Which allergies often cause coughs?

Allergic cough is a relatively common accompanying symptom

  • Pollen allergy (hay fever)
  • Food allergy
  • Pet hair allergy
  • House dust allergy


How can you tell if the cough was triggered by an allergy?

Unfortunately, it is not that easy to tell whether a cough is triggered by an allergy or not. An allergic cough does not have any specific characteristics that allow it to be differentiated with certainty.

Allergic cough is in most cases dry and not productive, so there is no secretion (mucus) with coughed up. In addition, it always occurs when there has been contact with the allergen. The process of making a diagnosis is often lengthy.

A cough that only occurs frequently in certain times of the year can, for example, indicate an allergic cough as part of a pollen allergy. A cough that occurs as part of a house dust allergy is particularly noticeable in the night and early morning hours, as the allergens, so-called mites, are in bed. If the cough occurs again and again shortly after consuming a certain food, this can be an indication of an allergy to this food.


How long an allergic cough lasts depends largely on the triggering cause. As long as the allergen is present, the cough usually lasts as long.
Allergic cough that occurs as part of a pollen allergy occurs seasonally. Depending on which pollen is allergenic, the symptoms start in spring, summer or autumn and usually last 1-3 months.

If the allergic cough occurs due to a house dust allergy, the symptoms can persist if the allergen sources are not disposed of.
In the case of a food allergy, the cough usually only occurs in the hours after consumption of the offending food.

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