A lingering cough that stays for weeks is one of the more common symptoms of long COVID. Having to deal with coughing and other medical conditions brought on by COVID-19 and other viruses can negatively affect your overall health and well-being. Thankfully, there are some ways in which you can lessen the severity of your cough and even prevent it from worsening.
This guide will tell you what you should know about Post-COVID coughing, how to treat it, and when you should see a doctor.
What causes a COVID cough?
A COVID cough can be caused by an inflammation in the airways that remains even after the infection has already passed. This is one of the most common Post-COVID symptoms that survivors have to deal with.
Your body triggers a cough to clear your airways of mucus and other foreign objects. Because the residual inflammation irritates your airways, you can suffer from a sore throat and persistent cough after COVID-19.
You can suffer from either dry cough or wet cough. Dry coughing can be caused by a viral infection or throat irritation. Wet coughs expel mucus from your airways and are associated with a bacterial infection. If your cough is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to deal with it. COVID-19 usually causes a dry cough, though wet coughs are not uncommon.
Why do coughs drag after the infectious period?
Coughs drag after the infectious period due to the residual inflammation after COVID-19 that irritates your throat. Doctors have yet to figure out why some COVID-19 patients have persistent symptoms after the infection while other survivors don’t experience them.
Chronic cough after COVID-19 is more common due to the number of systems that can be affected by a COVID-19 infection. Your lung tissue and throat can become inflamed, aggravating ongoing health problems and making it difficult to breathe without coughing.
The neural pathways that are associated with your cough reflex can also be impacted by COVID-19, which can make your nervous system involuntarily trigger your cough reflex at inappropriate times. This is known as a neurogenic cough.
How long does Aa COVID cough last?
A long COVID cough can last up to eight weeks after the infection has already passed, but most coughs only last two to three weeks, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
You may notice that you have a lingering cough even after you were considered no longer contagious. This is a symptom of long COVID and can be accompanied by other symptoms like brain fog, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
A lingering cough is a common symptom of long COVID that affects about 13% of people infected by COVID-19. A post-viral cough becomes a chronic cough when it lasts for more than eight weeks after infection.
When should you get it checked out?
You should get a lingering cough after COVID checked out when it lasts for longer than eight weeks or if it’s aggravated by other symptoms such as fever, bodily fatigue, or shortness of breath.
A Post-COVID cough normally lasts anywhere from two to eight weeks. Any longer than that is a reason to ask your healthcare provider about treatment options for your symptoms.
What has evidence for helping a cough?
There is evidence that over-the-counter cough medication can help control coughing fits, but these medications will not treat inflamed tissues. For these, you may have to try alternative treatments.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, deep breathing exercises can help rehabilitate COVID-19 survivors who suffer from Post-COVID symptoms like coughing and decreased lung capacity.
Deep breathing is the first step to pulmonary rehabilitation and can help alleviate Post-COVID conditions over time. Practicing a deep breathing exercise a few times a day while sitting, standing, or lying down can help you manage your coughing symptoms and keep your airways clear.
Staying hydrated is also very important when it comes to helping your COVID-19 cough. Drinking water soothes the inflamed tissues in your airways, which could suppress your urge to cough.
How to treat a lingering cough after COVID-19 – and when to see a doctor
You can treat a lingering cough after COVID-19 by doing the following treatments:
- Taking over-the-counter meds: Taking over-the-counter cough medication can stop you from excessive coughing. Cough medicine works by suppressing your cough reflex but does not get rid of blockages in your airway. This is good for dry coughs due to throat inflammation but may not be the best option when you need to expel mucus from your lungs.
- Staying hydrated: Making sure your body stays hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your coughing down. When you are properly hydrated, your throat will not feel as dry and itchy, reducing the impulse to cough your lungs out.
- Eating hard candies: Sucking on hard candies stimulates your salivary glands to produce more saliva, which keeps your throat naturally lubricated. While this may not solve neurogenic coughing, keeping your airways moist can reduce the itchy feeling in your throat.
- Adding honey to hot drinks: Honey has been found to be an effective cough suppressant – in some cases, even as effective as an over-the-counter cough medication. Adding honey to warm drinks like tea or lemon water can soothe your throat and control coughing fits.
- Taking a deep breath: Doing deep breathing exercises can keep your lungs strong and reduce coughing after a COVID-19 infection. Inhaling large amounts of air through your nose and exhaling through your mouth can strengthen your lungs and make breathing without coughing easier.
If your cough after COVID worsens or lasts more than eight weeks, it is a recommended to talk to your doctor about possible diagnoses and treatments to keep you in good health.
If you experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, body fatigue, fever, or decreased lung capacity, your doctor may advise you to undergo a CT scan to figure out the root cause of your COVID-19-related symptoms. You may also need to take inhaled steroids if your airways and lungs are inflamed that they prevent you from normal breathing.
If you feel you are alone in your Post-COVID-19 journey, we are here to help. Know more about the support we offer and end your long battle against cough by reaching out to us. Contact us now.