Ignore dry cough at your peril

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Ignore dry cough at your peril

The winter chill brings with it many a health problem, the most common one being cough and cold. Although, it may start with a sore throat and a dry irritating cough, if left unattended it can later result in chest infection too. 

Given the biting cold weather  in Delhi which is compounded, in no small measure, by the heavy pollution and smog that hangs like a spectre over the City, most people are complaining of dry cough and sore throat. Even the ‘man of the hour’, Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi has been battling, rather unsuccessfully, a persistent cough that chokes him just as he gets into the stride at rallies, ceremonies and Press meetings. 

Dry cough is actually one where there is no phlegm production. It is caused due to a number of reasons, some of the common ones being a sore throat, inhaling an irritant like dust or smoke, asthma or an allergic reaction. The other type of cough is the swelling or infection of the larynx. The classic sign of this kind of cough is pain in the throat and difficulty in breathing. 
According to Dr Ratan Kumar Vaish, senior consultant, Rockland Hospital, “During winter there is a contraction of blood vessels and hence the blood supply to the outer layer of the body is reduced on account of this. This in turn affects the immunity system of a person, thus increasing the chances of infection. Dry cough is a result of cold, dust and smoke.” 

He explains that “in winter due to the fog, dust and smoke get converted into suspended particles and this layer comes closer to the earth. And this is what people inhale resulting in dry cough.”

“One should also look for symptoms, whether the cough changes over time or not. It is advisable to visit the doctor at the earliest. People who are prone to cough should guard against cold wind, dust, smoking, pollution and incense sticks. They should avoid having citrus fruits, pickles, curd, gol gappas, chaat, etc,” adds Dr Ratan.

The best way to keep the throat healthy is to use lukewarm water for brushing, bathing and even for drinking. Taking a plain water stream is also advisable as it is the cheapest and the easiest option. It helps a lot to drink hot soups, ginger tea, pulses, a lot of black pepper and even tulsi leaves to keep oneself warm during winter and for a healthy throat.

Dr Ratan says, “People who have respiratory problems also get dry cough. Hence those with breathing problems should avoid strong perfumes. Mostly kids are prone to dry cough but people who have to give a lot of speech and do not get voice rest too suffer from dry cough.”
The long and short of it is that if a dry cough is left untreated for a long time, it can lead to complications. If the problem persists for longer than usual, despite medications, a visit to the doctor is imperative and must not be delayed further. Your well being and health after all is no trivial matter.

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