When dreaming of how you would spend the holidays this year, you probably didn’t anticipate that a cough would come along, unpack its bags and settle in for the long haul. While colds, sinus infections and the flu can give you a cough lasting a couple of weeks, lingering coughs — those that persist longer than four weeks — may be a sign of bronchitis, allergies or even acid reflux disease. While treating the cause of your cough is essential to getting over it, there are ways to ease your symptoms so that you can still enjoy the holidays.
It may seem a bit counterintuitive — after all, it’s not summer and you’re not sweating — but keeping yourself adequately hydrated through the cold, dry season is important. It’s even more important when you have a lingering cough, because getting enough fluids can help thin the mucus along your respiratory tract which will reduce the irritation and decrease the frequency of your cough. If your throat is sore, go with whatever soothes it. Ice water, iced tea, herbal tea with honey and soup are all good choices. Drinking warm liquids comes with a bonus: they help loosen cough-inducing mucus to get it moving along faster.
Prioritize Sleep and Rest
You already know the drill: as your immune system works hard to make you well, you’ve got to support it by getting enough rest and sleep. That can be challenging around the holidays, when there’s always another errand to run, meal to make or gathering to attend. Defend your need for rest by committing to only what you can manage without increasing your stress levels or sacrificing sleep. If your cough is contagious, leave the cooking to someone else. Try not to stay out too late, as coughs tend to get worse at night, making it more likely that you'll start coughing as the evening wears on.
Take Long, Hot Showers
Postnasal drip a leading culprit behind lingering coughs. It often causes a dry, tickly cough because mucus is trickling down the back of your throat instead of out your nose. The good news is that a cough caused by postnasal drip may respond well to humidity. Taking a long, hot shower could soothe your respiratory tract and help quiet your cough for a while. You don’t have to take multiple showers a day, though. Simply standing in a steamy bathroom for 20 minutes can also do the trick. Having a cold-mist humidifier or a vaporizer in the house can also be beneficial.
Give Yourself Powerful Relief
Even when you do all you can to ease your cough, you still might need something more powerful. The right over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine may be just what you need to conquer the holidays with a lingering cough. A single dose of Delsym® Extended Release Suspension Cough Liquid works within the brain for up to 12 hours of cough relief. One dose can get you through the day, and one more can help you sleep through the night. But as with any other OTC medicine, ask your doctor for a recommendation for the best medicine to treat your type of cough.
A lingering cough can spoil the holidays, but staying hydrated, getting sleep, minimizing stress and taking cough medicine can help you through them.
- Harvard Health Publications: That Nagging Cough – Common Causes, Cures for a Persistent Cough
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cough
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- cough fluid recommendations