Right around Christmas, the coughs arrived. This upper respiratory infection swiftly develops into a persistent, disruptive and intense coughing syndrome. The cough is minimally productive. There might be a slight sore throat and there is usually no fever. This is not influenza. There are none of the profound body aches like with the flu. But the COUGH! There is no escaping the bouts of hacking. If you also have asthma or get recurrent bronchitis, this infection can lead to severe respiratory distress.
The cough can last for more than 14 days.
Over the counter medications that can help:
Dextromethorphan: found in over-the-counter cough elixirs like Delsym. Buy the store’s generic equivalent. Take it on the clock as the box instructs. It will control the cough to a degree without significant sedation.
Pseudoephedrine: found in Sudafed, the formulation that is held behind the pharmacy counter and requires a valid drivers’ license to purchase. This is a nasal decongestant. It can cause sleeplessness and may raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Buy the short-acting version that wears off in 4 hours to minimize the impact on your blood pressure and to avoid the sleep disruption. Don’t bother with phenylephrine, the Sudafed product sold on the regular store shelf. It does not work.
Guaifenesin: found in Mucinex (the original formulation). This is a liquifier and helps reduce chest congestion. It can break up thick secrets and make it easier to cough mucus up and out of the lungs.
If you run a fever, if your cough is productive with heavy green or brown sputum, if your feel sicker and sicker……come in and get evaluated. These are VIRAL infections; antibiotics do not help. But, you can be at a greater risk for a secondary infection that is bacterial. We want to help you stay well and get well.
As always; wash you hands. If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Limit contact with other sick people. Let’s all try to be good neighbors and not spread germs.