A cough isn’t any fun, but it’s the body’s natural way to fight off contaminants in your respiratory system. If you’re coughing a lot, it makes it hard to sleep and to be productive when you’re awake. Our natural inclination is to quiet the cough. Once you’re over the main infection of a cold, generally within a week of the onset of symptoms, you might be left with that cough. Here’s why.
The most common reason you have a cough after a cold is postnasal drip. The infection may be gone, but your body is still trying to deal with the inflammation. Your airway may still be sensitive. Any small amount of dust or pet dander can irritate your throat, causing you to cough. Postnasal drip doesn’t automatically clear up when the infection is gone, so you cough to get rid of the mucus. If you have a wet vs dry cough, you may need to try a decongestant or antihistamine to help deal with your sinus drip.
Other Reasons You Cough After a Cold
While postnasal drip is usually responsible for your post-cold cough, it’s not the only culprit. You may be fighting a secondary infection, such as pneumonia. While your body is fighting the cold virus, it’s susceptible to other infections. If you get better, then get worse, you may be fighting another infection. Asthma can also be triggered after a cold. The cold causes your airways to constrict, which triggers an asthmatic wheeze. You should discuss this with a healthcare provider. Finally, your cough may linger after a cold because you never actually had a cold. Your cough was a symptom of another problem and the other symptoms mimicked a cold.
Dealing With a Persistent Cough
A cough isn’t a sign that you’re contagious, but you should be aware of spreading germs while you’re coughing. It seems obvious, but remember to cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands or use sanitizer. For keeping the cough to a minimum, you can try these home remedies:
- Cough suppressant tablets – keeping your throat moisturized can reduce the urge to cough.
- Drink plenty of water, hot tea, chicken broth or other clear liquids. Staying hydrated reduces the thickness of mucus, making it less likely to cause strong coughing. Clear, hot liquids are good for soothing the throat.
- Honey is a nice lubricant for the throat, too. Just don’t ever give honey to a child under one year old.
- Use a humidifier in your room. The cool mist helps you breathe easier when it’s dry outside.
- Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke. Smoke is an irritant that makes you cough. When you have a chronic cough, you should avoid triggers.
A chronic cough is no fun. If you can’t alleviate a cough after a cold, you may want to discuss it with your healthcare provider. There are many reasons you could be coughing. It could be the side effect of a medication, or it could indicate a different problem. You know your body.