Persisting cough is sweeping through the UK – simple remedies to try

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Whether you’re sitting on a bus or browsing the shelves of your local supermarket, the sounds of cough seem to be echoing through spaces everywhere at the moment. While sniffles and colds are not uncommon during the winter period, it feels like symptoms are especially stubborn this year. Fortunately, an expert has shared the simple remedies that could help end the annoying, persistent cough.

If you’ve been struck by a pesky cough that you can’t shake this winter, you’re not the only one.

Health experts suggest that the hacking problem could be down to people picking up one infection soon after another.

Findings from Imperial College London report that rates of upper and lower respiratory tract infections are well above average this year.

Furthermore, the weekly data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also found high rates of flu and other respiratory viruses.

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Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, explained that infections have been spreading for longer than usual.

One of the reasons for persisting symptoms is the public’s reduced resistance to bugs after socially isolating for two winters.

Professor Hawthorne said: “This seems to make it more likely they will pick up infections than in previous years.

“So, in some cases, it may be a matter of picking up one infection after another. 

“They are all different and getting over one type of infection does not give immunity against another one.

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“We’d encourage patients to do what they can to keep themselves well this winter, including practising good public hygiene such as regular handwashing, or using hand gels if that isn’t possible, and throwing tissues away once they’ve been used.”

What’s worse, the cost-of-living crisis has severely hit far too many homes in the UK, leaving many without heating and healthy foods.

“It goes without saying that if patients are struggling to eat healthily or heat their homes or are living in damp conditions, then this will have an impact on their health – and the added stress of struggling financially will undoubtedly take its toll on people’s mental health,” she said.

One of the persisting symptoms that cropped up this winter is a long-lasting cough.

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Fortunately, Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, told how to soothe this pesky sign.

The expert advised to try the following remedies:

  • Resting, and drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated
  • Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen if you need pain relief
  • Hot lemon and honey, or a simple cough medicine containing lemon and honey, to soothe the throat
  • A herbal medicine called pelargonium, which is only suitable for ages 12+.

Mr Day said: “You can also talk to a pharmacist who will be able to give helpful advice and recommend over the counter medicines for the cough.  

“There is limited evidence for the effectiveness of most cough medicines but they may ease any discomfort until the symptoms clear with time.”

Whether you decide to stick to good old lemon and honey or reach for a cough medicine, most coughs should go away within a few weeks.

If your cough has lasted for more than three to four weeks, the pharmacist recommended seeing your GP.

He added: “This might require some further tests or different types of medicines: longer-lasting coughs can be a sign of something else, such as acid reflux from the stomach, an allergy, an infection, or a side effect of a prescribed medicine, for example. 

“If you have any questions or concerns about coughs, or medicines for coughs, talk to your pharmacist in the first instance.”

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