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Sunday, October 16, 2011
Doctor, this COUGH won't go away!
Did you know that a lingering cough is one of the most common reasons people head to see their family doctors? With most "colds", after you get past the headaches, and stuffy nose part, you find yourself coughing. Sometimes it's a minor "clear your throat" type of cough, while other times, it's the crazy fits of coughing that keep you from sleeping.
Is there anything that can be done for a cough that wont go away? Absolutely, and that is the point of today's blog. "Cough" literally makes the top ten list every year for reasons to visit your doctor. After many upper respiratory viruses, coughs will linger... for up to SIX weeks! A cough does NOT mean you definitely need an antibiotic- in fact, typically, you do NOT. However, a cough that is not managed with over the counter medicines should be addressed by your physician. Coughing all day long at school or work (or keeping up your spouse with coughing all night) is NOT a good plan!
What can your doctor do? First of all, they do need to rule out any secondary infection such as a pneumonia. If you are a week into your symptoms, and suddenly you feel a ton worse and develop a fever, this might be a bacterial infection setting up shop AFTER the virus cleared the way past your body's defenses. More commonly, though, you may have developed some over-reactive airways and may benefit from some inhalers or other asthma-style of medicines. A prescription cough syrup used at night may help with the nighttime exacerbations, and your doctor can remind you of some traditional home remedies such as cool mist humidifiers that may help. Finally, sometimes a cough comes from other sources, such as acid reflux or sinus drainage, which require different treatments.
BOTTOM LINE: See your doctor to evaluate coughs that get worse after a respiratory illness, or that wont go away- don't expect antibiotics, but know there are other treatment options!!