5 reasons you should treat your cough right now!

Change of weather causes a spike in throat infections and other ailments of the respiratory tract. A simple sore throat can also progress into a cough and needs to be prevented at the right time. Cough is one such ailment that if neglected can have a deleterious effect on your health. Although with various myths associated with cough, it is supposed to be good for us as it is a protective reflex of the respiratory tract trying to expel the irritants like allergens or foreign substances and also mucus .[1] Cough can last for long time if not treated at the right time. There are various home remedies and OTC medicines that can be used to tackle cough. However, if your cough doesn't seem to leave your back it is ideal to get it diagnosed by a doctor. Cough can progress into severe infections and also harm your life in many ways like:

  1. Cough causes lifestyle problems: When you cough all the time, it can be difficult to converse or finish speaking your part with clarity. People around you may exhibit an impatience or irritation with your coughing. Persistent coughing interferes with the ability to sleep during the night and this means daytime fatigue and a constant sense of irritation. All that pressure building up in the throat and mouth can induce severe headaches. People given to chronic cough often find themselves short of breath and in turn, this drains them of energy. Another common problem is urinary incontinence caused due to chronic cough which happens because the bladder is subjected to continuous pressure. [2] All these factors put together mean lifestyle problems that have no solution unless you manage to get rid of the cough.
  2. Cough can cause physical damage [3]" : If you have noticed, a persistent cough is often accompanied by chronic muscular pain in the chest and back. Every time you have a coughing fit, a strong pressure is generated within the chest cavity and this strains the muscles there and causes muscle pain. Women who have weak bones have been known to crack ribs when coughing very hard. Delicate blood vessels in the anus and the nose and recent surgical wounds may also burst leading to haemorrhage.
  3. Acute cough poses health risks [4] :Cough present for a short time is called an acute cough. It is either in infections such as viral fever, sinusitis, bronchitis, whooping cough and pneumonia or non-infectious conditions such as asthma, allergies to environmental conditions such as pollution or cigarette smoke. And these, if untreated, can lead to further complications. Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hypertension.
  4. Cough easily infects people around us [5] :Every time a person with an infection coughs even if he or she covers the mouth with a handkerchief or the hands there is a strong likelihood of letting loose infectious organisms that can attack other people in the vicinity. People with a weakened immune system are especially prone to such air-borne infections.
  5. Chronic cough could indicate deep-seated problems :Cough in most people can be attributed to infections, allergies or other minor problems. Rarely, in some chronic cases (cough that lasts greater than three weeks) is an indicator of some underlying medical condition such as tuberculosis[6] or other lung diseases including cancer, congestive heart failure, ear infections, gastro oesophageal reflux disease, etc. People on ACE inhibitor type of drugs for hypertension may also suffer from chronic cough as a reaction to the medicine. [7] Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.

In Indian homes, it is quite common to find people treating cough with natural remedies such as turmeric in hot milk, or crushed garlic saut ed in ghee or ginger and tulsi juice mixed with honey. If natural remedies fail to relieve your cough there are various other ways to get rid of cough instantly like gargling, rubbing vapour rubs etc..

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[1] Management of chronic cough by Ian D Pavord and Kian Fan Chung in the Lancet

[2]National Kidney and Urological Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "Urinary Incontinence in Women."

[3]What are the dangers of coughing? (Live Strong)

[4]National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of National Health Institute, US

[5] Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Healthcare Settings, Including Protection of Healthcare Personnel. July 15, 2010, CDC

[6]Textbook of Pulmonary Medicine by D. Behara

[7] Iron supplementation in ACE inhibition as a treatment for cough: is it really inoffensive? [Hypertension. 2001]

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