Why do I cough when I have a cold?

Why do I cough when I have a cold?

Is your runny nose now accompanied by a nasty cough? Contrary to popular belief, it is not a bad cold, but another infection. An update on this state, with Dr Gérald Kierzerk, medical director of TipsForWomens.

At the office, your colleague keeps saying “I have a cold and I’m coughing“? Contrary to his statements, this situation is not possible. Explanations.

“When you have a cold, you don’t cough”

A runny and stuffy nose is common in winter. Three-quarters of the population suffer from this benign respiratory condition, caused by a virus.

However, this “cold” is often accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms, such as a burning sensation in the nose, a more or less pronounced loss of smell and taste, or even fever.

And the cough in all this? According to Dr. Gérald Kierzek, coughs and colds cannot coexist.

When you have a cold, you don’t cough. When “it goes down to the lungs”, to use the expression, it is not a cold but bronchitis, in other words an inflammation of the bronchi. Coughing is a simple defense reflex of the body; In case of irritated bronchi, we will start coughing to evacuate the mucus. Clearly, when the cough occurs, the lungs and bronchi are already affected.“, said Dr. Kierzek with a smile.

How to calm a cough?

If acute cough must be treated urgently, one which is not worrying (in other words, one which is not accompanied by annoying symptoms such as having difficulty breathing, eating, etc.) can be easily mitigate, by adopting the following recommendations:

  • Reside in a healthy environment (no smoke or irritants);
  • Rest, by elevating your head at night with pillows;
  • Consume herbal teas made from thyme and honey, with soothing, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties;
  • Take analgesic-antipyretic medications in case of fever above 38°C.

These first steps are usually enough to make the cough disappear: in a few days it becomes “greasy” and resolves in two to three weeks.

Cough suppressants singled out

However, many patients rush to cough suppressants to speed up healing. A very bad idea, according to the Health Insurance website. “Cough medicines are often ineffective or even harmful“, she assures.

In particular, she advises against taking cough suppressants in the event of a wet cough. “Expectorant or thinning products have not been the subject of scientific recommendations“, specifies the site, in conclusion.

Last October, it was the medicines agency which warned: certain cough syrups, based on pholcodine, would present an unfavorable benefit-risk balance.

Let us remember: in the absence of warning signs (high fever, chest pain, severe shortness of breath), coughing is a natural and harmless sign of defense.

Coughs must be respected; and possibly opt for natural, effective remedies without side effects: honey (not to be given to children under one year old, editor’s note), fruit syrup, thyme herbal tea, etc.” said Dr. Gérald Kierzek.

If, despite everything, you want to take a cough suppressant: “Be careful to read the list provided by the Prescrire magazine and to check the potential side effects of the medication. You can also ask your pharmacist for advice. Finally, be careful with the duration of the intake, which must be a maximum of five days for self-medication..