Coughing has become a rather alarming symptom, especially during the time of COVID. It may undermine your capacity to focus on your work, and it could also force you to withdraw from socializing with other people since the symptom instills fear that you might have the virus.
Two years after the global health crisis started, we now have a better understanding of the novel coronavirus and its manifestations in the human body. However, it is still not enough to fully grasp all facets of COVID-19, particularly the symptoms that tend to linger weeks or months after the infective stage.
Natasha Yates, the deputy lead of General Practice at Bond University in Australia, recently shared the four most common causes of lingering cough in COVID-19 survivors, and all of them involve inflammation.
1. Upper Airways
When the nasal passages and sinuses remain inflamed after the infectious period, the fluid produced by the inflammation may drip down the back of the throat and lead to post-nasal drip. This condition will cause one to cough or have the urge to swallow or clear the throat from time to time. However, it is easily remedied by lozenges, saline rinses, nasal sprays and sleeping in an upright position.
2. Lower Airways
Inflammation in the lungs and lower airways also leads to prolonged coughs. The body can tell if there’s a build-up of fluid and swelling in these areas, and it will trigger coughing as a mechanism to clear the fluid. If there’s minimal fluid, the resulting condition would be a dry cough. Solutions for this condition include drinking plenty of fluids, practicing controlled breathing exercises and inhaling steam.
3. Neural Pathways
When there is an inflammation in the neural pathway, the body may also use the cough reflex to indicate that something is wrong. When the nervous system is involved, the resulting cough is not one caused by the respiratory tissues.
4. Interstitial Lung Disease
This may be the least common among the four, but it is far more serious than the other three. This happens when the lung tissue gets scarred from the inflammation. This condition requires proper diagnosis and management by respiratory specialists.
Post-COVID cough can last for weeks or months, and it can be an inconvenience in more ways than one. Yates advised that if you have doubts about the cause and progression of your cough, it’s best to have it checked by your physician.