Cough Cough Cough!

Is coughing bad for health?
A lot of my patients come to me, worried about the amount of coughing they or their child has.

I will often reassure them that coughing in itself is not actually dangerous in the majority of the cases, in fact, it is actually the body's way of protecting itself.

When we have a cold, because of gravity, a lot of mucus drips down into the main breathing tube (trachea), or even lower down. This mucus brings a lot of virus or bacteria with it.

This irritates the lining of the trachea, making us cough, to bring up the mucus.

If we did not cough, the mucus with a lot of bugs is allowed to sit on the lungs, where it is warm and moist, and the bugs starts to reproduce. Then the head cold turns into a chest infection (pneumonia), otherwise known as an infection of the lungs. This can make us very unwell indeed.

Therefore, in most cases, coughing is actually the body's protective mechanisms working properly!

However, as we all know very well, coughing can often be disrupting and uncomfortable, not to mention painful at times. Therefore sometimes medicines may need to be prescribed to allow some break from the relentless coughing – something to suppress the cough. I usually recommend only using this at night to allow some sleep, but not during the day. This is just so the body can clear up the mucus.

Antibiotics does not target the cough itself, rather the bacteria that may be causing the mucus and irritation. That is why not all coughs require antibiotics, and antibiotics doesn't always get right of a cough right away.

One of the few times when coughing is a big problem – is in Whooping Cough, or Pertussis.

Whooping Cough in young children, especially under 1 years old, can cause coughing so severe that they run out of breath!

If in doubt, speak to your doctor about your concerns.