Coughs are common, and not just limited to the winter season. Coughing is a symptom, not a diagnosis. Most coughs are caused by viral illnesses, and will resolve without treatment, although the cough often persists long after the illness has resolved. Allergies are a common cause of coughing this time of year. Persistent coughing may also be a sign of gastric reflux. A cough may be a side effect of prescription medication. Although mosts coughs are annoying, but benign, coughing may be a symptom of a more serious condition. A cough that is productive of colored phlegm, or associated with fever, may be a sign of pneumonia. A cough associated with blood tinged phlegm may be a sign of malignancy. A cough that persists beyond 2 weeks should be evaluated by a physician.
There are many cough “remedies”, but most are ineffective, particularly over the counter cough suppressants. There are a number of steps you can take to reduce coughing:
Drink plenty of water, hydration thins the secretions of mucous.
Take cough drops with menthol or eucalyptus.
Sleeping with your head elevated can be helpful-it reduces post-nasal drip and acid reflux.
Use a saline or xylitol nasal spray to clear mucous.
If the cough is waking you up at night, try taking a antihistamine like benadryl at bedtime to reduce post-nasal drip.
Have honey which is a natural, homeopathic cough suppressant.
If you have heartburn or a history of acid reflux, try taking an antacid at bedtime like Zantac or Pepcid.
Once again, coughs are common(and annoying), and will usually resolve without the need of a trip to the doctor. If the cough persists, or there are concerning symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, or evidence of bleeding, a visit to the doctor is indicated.