What to look out for
Coughs are often regarded as the ‘watch dog’ of the lungs. It is better to cough up phlegm than to have it lodge lower in the lungs where it can cause serious infections like pneumonia. Coughing is part of your natural immune defence system.
Most coughs are caused by viral respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold, flu or bronchitis. Coughs often come with other symptoms like runny nose, fever, sore throat, earache and general aches and pains.
Chesty coughs may begin with a barking cough that feels like a hardness in your chest and will cause you to cough up phlegm as the cough develops.
What can you do
Talk to your pharmacist, who can give you advice on over the counter remedies that may ease the symptoms of your cough. Cough expectorants help bring phlegm up so that coughing is easier and are only used for chesty coughs. Paracetomol or ibuprofen will relieve pain. Antibiotics are rarely needed for coughs. Rest, fluids and taking time to allow your own immune system to fight the infection are very important.
Coughing spreads the germs that caused your cough in the first place so it is important not to pass the ilness on to others. This can be avoided by coughing into a tissue, binning the tissue inmmediately and washing your hands afterwards.
When to seek help
Usually you do not need to see the doctor and most coughs can be treated at home. Most coughs will clear up within two weeks but may last up to three weeks – which is longer than a lot of people expect. If your cough lasts more than three weeks you should see your doctor.
If you are a smoker, have asthma, have any other chronic lung condition or are immuno-compromised you should get your cough checked out by your doctor.
For more information on coughs visit the main HSE website by clicking here.
As you can probably guess, this website can’t ever replace the advice you might get from a health professional. While we aim to give you the best advice we can, if you are at all worried about yourself or your child, please call or visit your GP or your Pharmacist.
We hope you feel better soon!