Coughs are no picnic, even when they only last a short period of time. When they linger on, however, symptoms can become excruciating, both physically and emotionally. Rather than take your best guess at what’s true about long-lasting coughs, consider the following myths.
Myth: They're Always Minor
Sure, a few days of coughing may not keep you down, but a cough that carries on for weeks can greatly interfere with your comfort and well-being. Though it's common to be frustrated or even anxious when waiting to get better, constant coughing can also cause fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and poor work performance. To keep these issues to a minimum, consider taking an over-the-counter medication such as Delsym® Cough+ Chest Congestion DM, rest plentifully and consult your doctor as needed.
Myth: Antibiotics Will Definitely Help
While antibiotics may help treat a lasting cough associated with certain illnesses such as acute bronchitis, they won’t help with the leading cause: the common cold. Cold and flu bugs are caused by viruses, which antibiotics don’t treat. If this surprises you, you’re not alone. In a survey conducted by the United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency in 2011, a quarter of the 1800 participants said they believed antibiotics work on most colds and coughs.
Myth: Emotional Stress is No Biggie
The belief that only physical factors, such as catching a bad cold, lead to a lingering cough is another myth. Emotional stress can not only make you more susceptible to colds, but make your symptoms last longer. Research published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences showed that ongoing stress tinkers with certain hormones, leading to increased inflammation and making it tougher for the body to fight infections. Amping up the R&R may be just what the doctor ordered.
Myth: Blood Pressure Medications Don't Contribute
If you take an ACE inhibitor to manage high blood pressure, such as captopril — or another generic medication that ends in “pril” — there’s a one in five chance you’ll develop a chronic cough. If you think you may be experiencing this side effect, don’t make any changes on your own. Instead, talk to your doctor. A different prescription may be all you need for improved symptoms.
Coughs carry on for all sorts of reasons. Understanding common myths about long-lasting symptoms may help you feel better more quickly.
- Cedars Sinai: Bronchitis
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Common Cold and Runny Nose
- BBC: Myth that Antibiotics Cure Coughs and Colds Still Rife
- Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences; Chronic Stress, Glucocorticoid Receptor Resistance, Inflammation, and Disease Risk
- TIME: Why Stress Makes It Harder to Kick the Common Cold
- WebMD: 8 Reasons Your Cough Is Not Improving
- Harvard Health Publications: That Nagging Cough
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