It is not rare for most of us when a mild cough has troubled us for days, making our daily lives harder and contact with others even worse. Often, instead of improving, the situation may get worse as we did not pay much attention and we just put the blame on the weather. At work our colleagues talk to us from afar, at home the husband locks us in another room away from the children, while on the bus the eyes of the passengers are reprehensible! We became the ones that the world avoids!
When is cough dangerous? By what means do we deal with it? Have we noticed other symptoms? And when should we go to the doctor? Questions that we will try to answer and quieten you.
Cough is a very important mechanism to protect our respiratory and helps us remove harmful micro-organisms and particles that enter it. Sometimes it may also be a sign that something is wrong. If cough occurs, whether it is intense or not, identify the causes, so you can deal with it immediately.
Cough can be either acute or chronic. Acute is considered to be a cough that lasts less than three weeks, and chronic when it lasts over that period of time. In the second case, it’s a good idea to visit an expert to find the problem.
It is usually cough associated with the flu or common cold. In this case, you should be patient to let the flu do its cycle. Take care of your diet by choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, soups and other hot beverages. If your doctor thinks it is necessary, he or she will give you an antitussive medication. If the cough persists for more than three weeks, it may mean that pathogenic germs have found fertile ground for growth and development in something more serious eg. bronchitis or pneumonia. In this case, you should consider a doctor.
Dry or productive cough?
Dry cough is the one that does not produce mucus or does not coexist with runny nose and irritates the lungs and throat. It is usually due to infection, inflammation or irritation of the upper respiratory tract due to a bacterium, virus or irritant. Such cases are pharyngitis, laryngitis and others.
When the cough is dry, take care to drink plenty of fluids to soften the throat, lozenges or candies for coughing and if the throat is quite irritated you can also choose a syrup for dry cough.
A productive cough is the one who produces mucus and is often accompanied by runny nose. It can be either a progression of a dry cough or a lower respiratory tract infection. The reason mucus is produced is to remove irritants from the lungs and the airways, so it is not good to try to suppress productive cough.
You can also consume enough liquids to dilute mucus and make cough more productive. If your sleep is interrupted because of it, you can try an antitussive to reduce the frequency but not get rid of it completely. We emphasize this, because the aim is to remove all secretions, along with the germs they carry from our respiratory tract
Cough at night
If you wake up in the middle of a night of intense dry cough when you have already caught a cold, there is no reason to worry. Most likely, it is due to dry larynx which is a result of nasal congestion. When it is difficult to breathe from the nose, then during our sleep many times the breathing takes place from the mouth, so oral cavity is dried, micro-irritations are produced and cough is induced.
However, if the cough does not coexist with a disease, then it is very likely to be caused by an allergy e.g. in the fabric of your blanket, in the dust of the room or a teddy bear that holds your child in his sleep. If allergic cough is actually diagnosed, make sure you air your space well and choose pillows, covers, and even curtains of synthetic hypoallergenic fabrics, as wool or feathers can worsen the condition.
Cough and heartburn
This phenomenon is familiar to those with gastroesophageal reflux, a chronic condition where the lower esophageal sphincter does not work properly, resulting in the return of stomach acids to the esophagus. The result is intense heartburn, often accompanied by coughing.
In case of gastroesophageal reflux, small meals are often recommended, avoid lie down after meals and sleep with a “light stomach”. In these ways, digestion is facilitated and the phenomenon of reflux is reduced. Also choose to place two pillows on your back so that the body is inclined while you are resting.
Cough and cigarette
If you smoke, then you know! Cigarette cough is body’s effort to remove the toxins that are caused. Smoke irritation creates mucus and then mucus creates cough in order to leave our system. It is our body’s defense mechanism in order to protect us from the harmful substances of the cigarette.
Unfortunately, if the cough is intense and frequent, there is a strong correlation with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, a disease in which patients have difficulty breathing. The main cause is smoking and its most common feature is cough with intense mucus. In this case it is advisable for smokers to make a spirometry to detect the magnitude of the problem.
If the child has a sudden dry or paroxysmal cough, the first thing you need to check is if he or she has swallow a small piece of food or toy. In this case, seek immediate help from someone who knows about first aid or even better go to the nearest hospital. If you do not know how to handle the situation, do not try to remove the object by yourself because it can make things worse. Call an ambulance quickly.
Paroxysmal persistent cough can also be due to pertussis or other microorganism. The child’s eyes usually turn red from the attempt to cough, and often the color of the face changes.
Cough that sounds like “barking”
It is a dry cough with metallic sound. It sounds like a barking dog and often appears suddenly in the night. It usually occurs in children up to 3 years of age, as they have very narrow and irritable airways. It may be associated with laryngitis or some viral infection.
What to do: Take the kid out to breathe fresh air or open the window. Alternatively you can make a hot shower to the child and then stay for a while inside the steam room. Water vapor will greatly help to calm down and soften its irritated throat. Do not forget to consume many liquids.
Cough like “whistle”
Whistling cough occurs along with difficulty in breathing. Usually because of an infection, e.g. bronchitis or pneumonia, the air has difficulty getting out of the lungs and that’s why it sounds like wheezy-like sound. The same happens when the child has asthma. If you notice this type of cough, you should visit the pediatrician so he can make the right diagnosis.
If the child’s cough is accompanied by fever, vomiting or chest pain or if it lasts for more than 2 weeks, you should also consult a doctor.
Cough and asthma
Asthma is characterized by chronic cough. Sometimes it is mild and sometimes more intense. Most of the time the cough is dry and is accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. Smoke, pollution, moisture and dust aggravate asthma, while colds and flu are factors for asthma attacks. In fact, four out of five patients experience worsening of their asthma when they suffer from colds or flu.
In this case, avoid cough syrups as they simply cover the problem and visit a pneumologist.
There are many causes of coughing, so it is worthwhile to know about them. So when it happens to you study the above categories and find the right treatment for you! Above all, do not neglect it and carefully take care of your symptoms for an easy everyday life without annoying cough!
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