A Surprising Cough Connection
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A Surprising Cough Connection

Ear wax buildup could be responsible for chronic coughing.

If your feet are cold, as the saying goes, put on your hat. To that counterintuitive health tip you can now add another: If you're coughing a lot, check your ears.

Doctors in France have reported the case of a young boy who had a chronic dry cough that bothered him day and night for years. No array of tests could find any cause. Then specialists at the University of Nantes Hospital Center found a large amount of ear wax deep in one ear canal that was putting pressure on a nearby nerve. When they removed the wax, the cough disappeared.

"We very frequently see cases of built-up ear wax," says Dr. Claude Beauvillain de Montreuil, one of the doctors reporting the case. "But it's very rare that a buildup causes a persistent cough." Still, he says, in cases of lasting cough, a simple ear examination by the family doctor may get to the root of the problem.