Brrr – that cold weather has really set in. Covid, colds and flus are peaking on the Coast. Unfortunately even though the infection period has passed, many of us are left with a persistent and very annoying cough.
People of all ages can suffer from a dry and unproductive cough straight after a general cold, flu, chest infection or Covid. Your cold may have cleared up, but your airways could still be irritated. And the worst is that cold drinks and cold air can set you off into a coughing frenzy.
The bad news is that this annoying cough can last anywhere between three to eight weeks. In addition, antibiotics won’t necessarily work because the cough is generally a result of a recent viral infection. Sometimes the coughing fits can be so violent they cause vomiting.
So what causes this cough?
• A post nasal drip: Mucus running down the back of your nose, and onto the back of your throat is quite common after a cold or flu. Sometimes the virus sensitises the throat so much that the dripping really irritates the throat and causes reflex coughing. This often occurs at night when you are lying in bed.
• Cold air: Breathing icy winter air through the mouth when the throat is sensitive can cause coughing.
• Inflammation of the upper airways: Sore throats, inflamed tonsils and upper respiratory tracts which can take some time to return to normal.
• Asthma: Asthmatics are generally more sensitive to the effects of colds and flu, which can set off asthma symptoms. This will mean that asthmatics need to activate their action plan or see their GP.
The good news is that you can treat the symptoms:
• Suck lozenges (demulcents) to stimulate saliva production that in turn coats the throat to help protect it
• Take appropriate cough suppressants
• If you have a post nasal drip use a nasal spray (check with your pharmacist which one to use)
• Keep the air around you warm and reasonably dry by wearing a mask or scarf. Also breathe through your nose which helps moisten the air and reduce the irritation factor.
• Honey drinks help soothe the throat
• Check out natural options such as ivy leaf extract or some of the mushroom complexes.
In some cases, a cough can be caused by other underlying problems – so if it gets worse or has not improved in a few weeks, always consult your community pharmacist or GP.