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Post-Viral Cough- Everything You Need To Know
A post-viral cough or post-infectious cough is a cough that lasts longer than three weeks following a viral respiratory infection in the body. Coughing is a crucial part of our body’s defense mechanism to fight against various disease-causing viruses, bacterias, and other microorganisms—the destructive nature of cough assists in getting rid of bacterias in our airway passage.
Cough also helps get rid of accumulated mucus, harmful microbes, as well as irritants. Having cough as a symptom of certain respiratory diseases is fine, but cough usually goes away within a few days after recovery from infection. In some instances, the cough may remain stuck around even after you completely heal.
If you have trouble with post-viral cough, here’s all you need to know, including symptoms, cause, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
Post viral cough- symptoms
Generally, coughs are said to be highly productive coughs and dry coughs. Productive coughs generate mucus, while dry coughs do not produce any mucus. Post-viral cough can either be effective or dry.
The type does not matter when you have a cough that lasts longer than usual as both cause symptoms. Some symptoms of post-viral cough include:
- Frequent throat clearing.
- Irritated or sore throat.
Causes of post-viral cough
There are a few viral respiratory infections that may lead to causing post-viral coughs; these are:
- Common cold
Doctors and healthcare experts are not very much sure on why respiratory infections like these lead to chronic cough afterward, but they assume it may be associated with the following:
- Increased sensitivity- One reason for cough may be increased sensitivity of your coughing reflexes once an infection occurs in the body.
- Inflammatory response- another reason is an inflammatory response to the infection that damaged the airway lining, thus causing you to cough more than usual for a longer time.
Let’s see post-viral cough diagnosis take place.
Diagnosis of post-viral cough
if you have a viral cough due to a viral infection in the last few weeks, you do not have to visit a doctor for a diagnosis. However, several conditions may cause similar cough symptoms, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, and other conditions.
So, if you are worried about the reason you are coughing other than viral flu or disease, and you are not still sure if it is related to illness, consider visiting a doctor for a diagnosis.
The doctors will begin by asking you specific questions whether you have been sick in the past few weeks or a month. Answer them about any illness you have suffered or if the disease was respiratory or not. Next, the doctor might do a physical examination, and doctors may use a stethoscope to hear clearly to your chest when you breathe in and breathe out as per their instructions.
Based on what the doctors hear ad concludes, they might ask you to go for a chest X-ray for a clear idea and a better view of the chest to look for signs of organisms causing an infection.
You will also likely be diagnosed with the post-viral cough when:
- You have had an infection related to the respiratory system recently.
- The chest x-ray you had gone for does not show anything other than usual.
- The cough lasts more than three weeks or up to 8 weeks or so.
Based on what the doctors have concluded, you will be treated with medications for relief. Here’s what the treatment could be:
Usually, a post-viral cough will clear up on its own without needing medications or additional treatment. This may happen within a month or two. But, while you are waiting for the cough to get away, you can always use some medications for proper relief. There are over-the-counter medicines to provide some relief, including:
- Over-the-counter decongestants, for example, pseudoephedrine, also called Sudafed.
- OTC antihistamines, for example, diphenhydramine, commonly known as Benadryl.
- OTC cough-suppressants are accommodating dextromethorphan such as Mucinex DX, Robitussin.
- Prescription inhaled or oral corticosteroids, which will lessen any inflammation.
- Prescription medicine in the form of inhaled ipratropium or Atrovent, which clears up the airways and blocks mucus accumulation so that you can breathe properly.
While you are recovering from viral cough, you can also try:
- Take lots of warm liquids, such as broth or tea, to relieve any throat irritation resulting from coughing
- using a good humidifier, or take a steamy bath or shower to combine moisture to the air surrounding you.
- Withdrawing or defending yourself against any throat irritants, such as tobacco smoke or contaminated air.
If you are coughing even after two months of these medicines, make an appointment with your healthcare expert. The cough is probably due to another underlying condition other than a recent viral infection.
Coughing at night can be truly painful as it hinders your sleep, and you cannot do anything other than curse the cough or take some sleep medications. Here are some things that may help you sleep better:
What do to when you cough at night
1. Turn the head of your bed
It is straightforward for any irritants in your room to make their path to the throat and trigger your cough while lying down. Attempt using up some pillows to lift your head slightly.
2. Use a humidifier
Dry and warm air will usually irritate and trigger your throat and airways to produce a cough. Some people may also cough if they turn the heater on during the winters. This is mainly a result of the discharge of pollutants that accumulate up in those heating ducts. A humidifier that offers a cool-mist will help maintain the air inside your bedroom moist. This will keep your throat responding much better.
3. Try honey
Honey or an excellent hot drink will also help release some mucus in the throat. Combine two teaspoons of honey with caffeine-free tea, like herbal tea, to sip before you go to bed. You must never offer love to your children when they are younger than one year.
4. Limit or stop smoking
A persistent cough is a typical side effect of prolonged smoking. It is not an immediate fix to your situation, but if you are a frequent smoker, discuss any programs to assist you in beating the habit with your doctor. Not only will the cough go away, but your overall well-being will also benefit.
5. Tackle your GERD
Lying down will make it easier for the stomach acids to backflow into the esophagus resulting in discomfort. This disease is called acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a severe class of acid reflux and a well-known cause of coughing at night. But there are specific changes you can try and add to your lifestyle to overcome a cough resulting from GERD. For instance, here are some things to know:
- Prevent any foods items that might trigger GERD. You can also start maintaining a food diary to assist you in figuring out which of the foods items are triggering the condition if you are not sure.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating and wait for at least 2.5 hours once you have eaten the food.
- Elevate the head of the bed you sleep in by 6 to 8 inches to avoid irritants triggering the cough.
6. Manage asthma
Asthma makes your airways restricted and inflamed. A dry cough is a typical indication of disease.
You might require a prescribed inhaler to handle breathing issues.
The Bottom Line
If you have such a cough, you probably know that post-viral coughs are highly frustrating and particularly irritating when they intervene with daily activities such as sleep. They usually go away on their own in two months.
When you are recovering, you can do a few essential things to decrease coughing and throat soreness.
If the cough is not becoming any better even after two months, consult a doctor to learn its reason.
If you have a sore throat along with a prevalent cough, you can try these remedies and get relief from the condition.