Cof, cof… Have you ever caught a cold? Have you ever been near a cat and then started coughing, and felt your eyes watering? Welcome to the club! Coughs are very common. Even though they’re a nuisance, their purpose is to help us because they are a way of clearing our respiratory tract. A cough is rather like a “guard dog” for the lungs: it protects them against intruders or from enemies on the inside.
What is it?
coughing is a way of cleaning
|Tony won’t die from coughing because a cough is not an illness. It’s really just a sign that something’s not quite right.
Coughing helps defend the body against intruders and internal enemies. It also helps to keep our breathing apparatus in good condition: a bit like a rubbish truck, rather noisy and a bit of a nuisance.
Types of cough
|There are two different kinds of cough:
1. Dry cough: also called a non-productive cough. This is the kind that occurs when we have a throat irritation and there is no mucus.
2. Wet, or productive cough: this kind of cough produces expectoration and helps us to eject any mucus from the throat and bronchi.
Prevention is better than cure
|If you don’t want to spend all day coughing, here are a few suggestions for prevention:
Don’t stand near anyone who’s smoking or in a closed room full of smoke. You’ll avoid a lot of respiratory diseases, your health will improve and you’ll save yourself more than one bout of coughing.
If you’re one of those boys or girls who, in springtime, starts coughing and whose eyes keep watering, try and avoid going near flowers and plants that might trigger your allergy, especially on windy days.
Be on the lookout in winter, as this is usually the season when colds and flu like to pay us a visit.
If you have a cough
If you ever get a bout of coughing like Tony, the important thing to do is to stay calm, take a deep breath and swallow saliva. Then, drink some water that’s not cold and, if possible, have a hot drink with a spoonful of honey.
|1. A dry cough that tickles your throat can be alleviated with cough pastilles or cough drops. Sometimes it may be a good idea to ease it with some cough syrup, especially at night.
|2. In the case of the productive cough, there are cough syrups that will help to loosen up the mucus.
|3. A steam shower may help to combat a dry cough, as it increases the humidity of the air.
|4. Drinking a lot of liquids will help to dilute the mucus and make your cough more productive.
One of the main problems with coughs is that they are an easy way of spreading disease. However, here’s some advice on how to get round that:
|1. Cover your mouth and nose with a hanky when you cough. You can then throw it away in the rubbish after use (if it’s a paper one, of course).
|2. If you don’t have a hanky, cover your mouth and nose with your arm. Don’t use your hands because afterwards you might touch things that other people may have to use.
|3. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing; you can use soap and water.
Coughs don’t like sleeping
|Have you ever woken up at night coughing? That happens a lot! Coughs are like bats, they love the night-life.
When we’re asleep we’re relaxed, not talking and not swallowing. Well, without realising it, we produce a certain amount of mucus in our throat that we have to get rid of. Coughing is the defence mechanism that enables us to eject these secretions from our body. So, it’s a good idea to sleep with your head raised, using an extra pillow.
Did you know that…
A child your age catches, on average, eight colds a year.
Cough sweets with honey or herbs are good for calming your cough because they are mild on the throat. However, mint- or eucalyptus-flavoured sweets should be avoided because they irritate the throat.
Liquorice is also good for alleviating coughs.