Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA - 21

esophagus; when they lie down, acid
from the stomach can trickle into the
esophagus, triggering a reaction that
causes a cough.
The solution? Eat earlier in the
evening, avoid foods that can cause
indigestion and raise the head of
your bed, or at least prop yourself up
with pillows.
Also, coughs from asthma are often
worse at night, Rizzo says.
IS MY COUGH WET OR DRY?
"A moist cough [which brings up
mucus] tends to indicate inflammation," Rizzo says. A viral or bacterial infection, or an allergic reaction
with postnasal drainage, can lead to a
wet cough.
It might sound gross, but take note
of your mucus. Is it clear, white, yellow or discolored? Is it thick or thin?
These clues can help your doctor
diagnose the cause.
For a wet cough with other symptoms, like fever, shortness of breath,
chest discomfort or wheezing, see
your primary care physician or visit
urgent care. You might need a prescription medication, an inhaled
medicine for wheezing or a chest
X-ray to look for signs of bronchitis
or pneumonia.
A dry cough could stem from a
viral infection, or it could be a sign
of an airway irritation. Bad air quality, including exposure to airborne
irritants at work, can lead to a dry
cough. So can allergic rhinitis,
asthma, chronic bronchitis or irritation in the gastrointestinal tract.
A dry cough with cold symptoms
tends to be a sign of a viral-not
bacterial-infection, Rizzo says. So
rest and fluids are the main treatment options.
A notable viral exception: If you
think your cough might be a sign
of the flu, talk to your doctor right

CALM
YOUR
COUGH
Drugstore shelves are filled
with medications that promise
to help with a cough. Most of
them work by making mucus
thinner and easier to cough
up. They can be soothing, but
there's not a lot of evidence
behind how well they alleviate your cough, says Albert
A. Rizzo, MD, chief medical
officer of the American Lung
Association. Still, it's worth trying to find relief.
If your cough stems from
allergies or postnasal drip,
over-the-counter antihistamines might help.
And some people find that
ibuprofen helps reduce inflammation in the airway.
Home remedies can help,
too, Rizzo says. Tea with honey,
chicken soup, a neti pot and a
saline nasal spray might make
you feel better while the cause
of your cough resolves.

QUIZ

Is It Allergies or
Asthma?
Lots of people with allergies or asthma don't know
they have these conditions.
Visit acaai.org/resources/
tools/symptoms-test
and answer some yes-orno questions to find out
whether you might be one
of them.

away. You might be able to take
a medication that can help you
recover more quickly and help limit
the likelihood of spreading the flu
to other people.
A persistent dry cough could be a
sign of asthma, so your doctor may
review any history of allergies and
recommend breathing tests.
Head to the emergency department if you are coughing up blood
or you are experiencing shortness
of breath along with your cough.
IS MY COUGH WORSE WHEN
I'M OUTSIDE?
Rizzo points to three suspects that
might trigger outdoor coughs:
3 Bad air quality
3 Seasonal allergic reactions to
pollens and molds
3 Exercise-induced asthma (when
you're breathing more rapidly from
exercise, your airways might be
sensitive enough to cough, but you
might not wheeze)
Rizzo says it's important to tune
into your triggers. The more you
know about your cough, the more
you can help your doctor identify
its cause, run appropriate tests and
prescribe medications.
He says most coughs that stem
from infection, exposure or allergies last two to four weeks. They
might need medication, but they
tend to resolve.
For coughs that linger for more
than eight weeks, you might need
a more thorough investigation.
Chronic coughs might stem from
asthma, bronchitis, sinus problems
or gastrointestinal issues. There
could also be more serious underlying issues, such as pneumonia or
cancer. But before you worry, talk
to your doctor-a cough can be
many things, and there are treatments to help you feel better. ■

WINTE R 2019

21


http://www.acaai.org/resources/

Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA

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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA - Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA - Cover3
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