A child gets a cough about eight times a year, on average; that means he or she has a bout of coughing every month and a half, or, what amounts to the same thing, every six-and-a-half weeks, every 45 days, every 1,080 hours or every 25,920 minutes.
So it might not be a bad idea to know what we can do to avoid catching a cough and, if we already have one, what we can do to get rid of it.
What is a cough?
A cough is a defence mechanism that our body has for protecting our respiratory system. If we get a cough it means that something is not going quite like it should. So, a cough is rather like the tip of an iceberg: there could be other, unknown things lurking beneath it.
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 to eject any mucus from the throat and bronchi.
What can we do to prevent it?
You know how the saying goes: «prevention is better than cure«! So, if you want to keep coughs at bay, take the following advice:
1. Don’t stand close to someone who is smoking. Besides avoiding lots of respiratory diseases and improving your health, you’ll save yourself from having to put up with the nuisance of a cough.
2. If you suffer from hay fever, don’t let springtime catch you out and about. On those difficult days it’s best to stay indoors a bit more and keep the windows shut tight.
3. If you suffer from year-round allergies, it’s a good idea to cover your pillow and mattress with anti-dust mite sheets.
4. If you know you’re allergic to an animal or pets, keep your distance, no matter how much you like them.
How can we fight it?
If, despite all the above precautions, you’ve managed to get a cough, here are a few suggestions for dealing with it:
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. For 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 in your throate and make your cough more productive.
Are coughs fashionable?
One could say that every season has its cough, and that coughs never go out of fashion; they’re around all the time.
In winter, most coughs are the result of a viral infection, such as flu.
In spring, pollen and other allergens are to blame for making us cough.
But that doesn’t mean we can get rid of coughs that easily during the rest of the year. Remember that we can have a bout of coughing any time during the 365 days of the year.
Coughs and sleep
Have you ever heard your brother or sister, or a friend, coughing in their sleep? It’s quite normal! Especially if we have sinusitis.
When we’re asleep we’re relaxed, not talking and not swallowing and, without realising it, our body produces secretions 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.
Find out more
Did you know that a child your age catches, on average, eight colds a year?
Coughing is connected with different illnesses. If you want to find out more, consult the following links: