With the weather changing, an increase in family gatherings, and all sorts of other factors, it's no surprise a lot of us are getting sick these days.

But the worst (or, at least, most annoying) symptom has got to be that persistent cough that never seems to go away, right? It's enough to keep you up at night or interrupt every conversation you're trying to have.

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Where It Is Coming From?

“We have been seeing an unusually large number of patients who had typical viral upper respiratory infections, but have had a lingering cough that has lasted weeks to months,” Dr. Scott Braunstein, a double-board certified internal medicine and emergency medicine physician and the national medical director of Sollis Health, told the Huffington Post in a recent interview.

In fact, as the story goes on to explain, "Braunstein said the persistent cough is most likely due to prolonged inflammation in the airways — even after the virus is gone, the body continues to produce mucus and have bronchospasms, which is when the muscles in the airways tighten and cause a cough. For some people, this inflammation can persist anywhere from two weeks to two months, he explained."

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Are You Contagious?

“With colds, we usually consider the first three days to be the worst for spreading but contagiousness can linger longer than that,” another doctor told HuffPost.

Folks with respiratory infections tend to be contagious for five to seven days, but it could be shorter or longer depending on the virus and the treatment. "For example," HuffPost explained, "people with weakened immune systems can shed adenoviruses for months, despite being asymptomatic."

 

How to Treat a Persistent Cough

There are several things you can do to mitigate the effects of that annoying cough, though, including:

1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, and broths, to keep your throat moist and help reduce irritation.

2. Humidify the Air: Using a humidifier can add moisture to the air, which may soothe a dry or irritated throat and reduce coughing.

3. Warm Saltwater Gargle: Gargling with warm saltwater can help soothe a sore throat and alleviate coughing.

4. Honey and Lemon: Mixing honey with warm water or tea, along with a squeeze of lemon, may provide relief for throat irritation. However, avoid giving honey to infants under one year old.

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5. Over-the-Counter Cough Medications: Consider over-the-counter cough syrups or lozenges containing ingredients like dextromethorphan or menthol. Follow the recommended dosage and consult with a pharmacist if you have concerns.

6. Rest and Proper Sleep: Ensure you get adequate rest to support your body's immune system and promote healing.

7. Avoid Irritants: Steer clear of smoke, strong odors, and other environmental irritants that could worsen your cough.

If your cough persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or high fever, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. These could be signs of a more serious underlying condition, and a healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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