Concerned about your cough?

Concerned about your cough?

It’s that time of year when it seems like we’re always feeling under the weather. And whether it’s a cold or cough, it’s important to take care of our health during these cold months, so here’s our guide to cough’s this winter.

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Whooping cough

This highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways gets its name from the sound of gasps for breath between coughs. As well as affecting adults, whooping cough can also be caught by children.

Symptoms often begin as usual signs of a cold such as runny nose, sore throat or slightly raised temperature. This later develops into repeated coughing bouts a week later. Coughing usually lasts a few minutes and may lead to coughing up mucus or vomiting.

Most cases of whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics. However, if you’ve had the cough for over 3 weeks or it has become more severe, you will most likely have to receive hospital treatment.

Persistent cough

Most coughs usually clear up within 3 weeks. However, if your cough becomes persistent, it is likely you have had it over 3 weeks and is showing no signs of improving. This type of cough can be caused by a wide range of different problems such as asthma, allergies, smoking or bronchiectasis to name a few.

You probably have a persistent cough if you have had it for more than 3 weeks and it is showing no sign of improving. This cough can also cause blood to be coughed up. Shortness of breath, chest pain or swellings in your neck.

If you have the above symptoms, you should visit your GP to see what is causing it. If you have just caught a cough, you can try and fight it by having plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water and taking painkillers.

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Chesty cough with phlegm

Phlegm, or mucus can be green or yellow in colour and is usually a sign of a chest infection. They are most common in the autumn/winter season.

Usual signs of a chest infection other than coughing up phlegm are breathlessness, wheezing, high temperature, rapid heartbeat, chest pain and feelings of confusion.

Many chest infections can be treated at home and get better within a few days or weeks. Try getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids, take painkillers to help if you have a headache or fever. If your symptoms do get worse however, visit your GP.  

Cough with sore throat

A mild cough is a usual symptom of a sore throat so is most likely nothing to worry about.

The most common symptoms of a sore throat include a painful throat, especially when swallowing, dry throat, redness at the back of the mouth, bad breath, mild cough and swollen glands in the neck.

Usually, the symptoms of a sore throat can be soothed using painkillers and medicated lozenges. If your sore throat doesn’t improve after a week, you feel like you have a very high fever, have a weakened immune system or often suffer from a sore throat, see your GP.

Coughing at night

If you are suffering from a cough during the day, this will most likely worsen overnight. A cough that strikes at night however could be a sign of a health condition such as asthma, sinusitis, hay fever or something more serious such as acid reflux or heart failure.

Sinusitis is a very painful illness which causes headache and pain in the face as well as a runny nose. Sinusitis usually gets worse when laying down which is why it can cause coughing at night. Asthma and hay fever share very similar symptoms, such as sore throat, blocked nose, coughing, wheezing and breathlessness. Although it is a less common symptom, a cough that gets worse at night can be a symptom of heart failure, especially if you also have swollen legs/ankles. Acid reflux or GERD, is the most common cause of persistent cough and most likely causes coughing overnight.

If you’re suffering from a condition such as asthma or hay fever, this may be heightened during the summer months but if you are really struggling, visit your GP. Sinusitis can usually be treated with antibiotics so if you think you may have it, and if you are concerned about other health problems, speak to your GP.

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Coughing up blood

The most common causes of coughing up blood are a prolonged severe cough, a chest infection and bronchiectasis. Less common causes include lung or throat cancer, TB or a blood clot I the lung or fluid on the lungs.

Always see your GP as soon as possible if you find you are coughing up blood. It is particularly vital you make an appointment to see them if you are coughing up more than a few teaspoons of blood, if you are also experiencing chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss and blood in your urine or stools.