Persistent cough after Covid: why it happens, how long it lasts and how to relieve it

the cough is one of the main symptoms of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, because it is essentially a respiratory virus. In fact, it was one of the first to appear, alerting most infected people that they could be infected.

It was also one of the smoothest and least worrisome since manifested by a dry cough and disappeared after a few days in most cases.

However, this poses a big problem in cases where does not disappear after a long period of timeas is the case of 2.5% of people who have suffered from the disease, who continue to cough a year after being infected.

That’s what we call “Covid persistent cough”a condition which, although it does not reverse gravity, can make everyday life a little hell as it can hamper or reduce the ability to work or lead a normal life of those who suffer from it, or simply make those around believing that Covid is spreading.

Covid persistent cough: what causes it

As the BBC explains, the explanation of why we cough during Covid is as simple as understanding that the body defends itself against an external and unknown pathogen that threatens it. Being a respiratory virus, it affects our nostrils and lungs and therefore the rest of the respiratory system.

The cough is neither more nor less than the way our body tries to defend itself and to expel the virus, through the activation of a reflex that results in a cough. But what is the problem? May this cough persist even long after our body has cleared the virus. This is when we talk about persistent cough from the Covid.

Yes, why do we drag it even after healing? Experts point to inflammation as the root cause and our system’s response to it. There are four possible explanations:

  • If the upper airways are inflamed: the fluid produced by all the inflamed tissue drains down the back of your throat, causing ‘postnasal drip’, which makes you feel the need to cough or swallow to clear your throat.
  • If the lungs or airways are inflamed: coughing is the answer to trying to get rid of fluid and swelling.
  • The neural pathways may be where the inflammation is: the nervous system is involved, either centrally (brain) or peripherally (nerves), and the cough does not originate in the respiratory tissues.
  • Scarred lung tissue due to inflammation: a condition called “interstitial lung disease”, which needs to be managed by respiratory specialists.

How to relieve a persistent cough

As BBC Mundo explains, if this cough occurs due to postnasal drip, the measures to reduce it will be very effective: sucking pills, saline rinses, sprays, sleeping on your back, etc. It is also recommended to sip water, eat or drink honey to soothe or breathe slowly through the nose, as this warms and moistens the air that hits the back of the throat when it first passes through the nasal cavities.

If, on the contrary, the cough occurs due to inflammation of the lungscontrolled breathing exercises and steam inhalation can help.

Beware of antibioticsbecause in some countries they suggest that they could help treat Covid and the symptoms that come with it, like this type of cough, but they are not appropriate, because they can contribute to the development of resistance by our body.

How long does a persistent cough from Covid last?

According to experts, can last for weeks or even months and can be debilitating. While it’s also true that most of the ways to treat it and help manage it are simple, cheap, and “can be done without medical intervention,” says Natasha Yates, assistant professor of general medicine at Bond University.

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