HEALTHY LIVING — It’s just a little cough … or is it?
STOP! This is NOT about COVID-19.
While we should all be aware of those symptoms in this time of abundant caution, we must also acknowledge that other diseases have not disappeared and also need our attention.
Did you get the respiratory “crud” that most folks suffered with this winter? And is that cough is still hanging on? Or have you had a little nagging cough that has been around so long now that you forgot when it started?
Is it a productive cough, meaning that you are coughing up mucus or is it a back of the throat tickle resulting in a dry cough?
There are several kinds of coughs, some we should just let run their course, that don’t require strong medications. There are also some that are symptomatic of a much larger problem and need to be seen to by your doctor. Let’s take a look at some and see if any may apply to you.
The common cold: Sore throat, runny nose, followed up with about 10 days to two weeks of coughing and sneezing. It’s viral, spreads quickly, and an antibiotic will not cure it. Over-the-counter meds will help alleviate the symptoms but it won’t cure or shorten the duration. Rest and drink plenty of liquids. If symptoms last over two weeks, you may have a secondary infection and please do see your doctor.
The flu: Cough, could be dry or clear phlegm, accompanied by a spiking fever, chills, achiness, and generally feeling like you have been hit by a truck. Go see your doctor, ASAP, do not wait. Get a yearly flu shot.
Pneumonia: Wet cough, yellow or green mucus, fever, chills, chest pain, and possibly mental confusion. This is an infection that can come on quickly and can involve one or both lungs. This sometimes requires hospitalization, or in the case of “walking pneumonia” resting at home and taking antibiotics are called for.
Bronchitis: A cough often with phlegm, but not always, soreness in the chest and a fever. Often referred to as a “chest cold”. It’s actually an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, they swell and it causes you to cough. First, see your doctor to rule out pneumonia, drink plenty of liquids to keep mucus thin and steam from a hot shower helps relieve cough.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough): Unfortunately, this is making a comeback, there is a vaccine for this and adults are encouraged to get a booster, especially if you will be around babies. It produces an uncontrollable, violent cough that makes it hard to breathe, forcing you to inhale deeply-often producing a whooping sound. Get to your doctor ASAP, they will put you on antibiotics.
Postnasal drip: When your nose or sinuses produce extra mucus, it can drip down the back of your throat and trigger your cough reflex. This condition is also called upper airway cough syndrome (UACS).
Asthma: An asthma-related cough may come and go with the seasons, appear after an upper respiratory tract infection, or become worse when you’re exposed to cold air or certain chemicals or fragrances. In one type of asthma (cough-variant asthma), a cough is the main symptom. Easily diagnosed and treated.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): In this common condition, stomach acid flows back into the tube that connects your stomach and throat (esophagus). The constant irritation can lead to chronic coughing. The coughing, in turn, worsens GERD — a vicious cycle. If you have even woken up in the middle of the night, coughing without any other symptoms, this might be the reason.
My best advice, see your doctor. Coughs can be simply annoying, but it is also the body’s way of telling you to pay attention, something is not right. The body is an amazing thing and has the ability, in many cases, to heal on its own, but with any symptoms, if they persist, don’t dilly dally — get help.
Take care of that cough and stay healthy, my friends.
Jody Holton writes about health for The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org