I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has had a cough at some point. It is certainly one of the most common complaints prompting visits to the doctors, and resulting in lost work days, sleepless nights, and general malaise.

This malady also prompts two basic questions:

1) Why is this happening?

2) What can and should I do about it?

Most coughing, in otherwise healthy people, is usually triggered by a benign process. Generally, a virus, that usually resolves  on its’ own. It is generally known as bronchitis. Occasionally there may be an allergic component. This can last a few days, but may extend to a few weeks, due to prolonged inflammation.  The treatment in this case, without other significant symptoms, is supportive. That is ,over the counter cough medication, rest, and fluids . Occasionally, prescription medication may be required if symptoms continue.

If there are other symptoms such as high fever, a cough that produces discolored or blood-streaked material, chest pain, or shortness of breath, immediate medical consultation is strongly advised. In addition, if there is a history of smoking ,underlying lung disease, heart disease, or other chronic medical problems, prompt medical evaluation is recommended.  In other words, if things are not getting better, or you’re concerned, call your doctor or come in for an evaluation!

By Dr. Sophia Hill