You or someone in your household may already test negative for Covid-19, but that nasty cough is still not going away. A lingering cough is a classic symptom of long Covid – that is, the situation where you continue to have Covid symptoms long after recovery.
A study of participants in the United Kingdom found that 49.8 per cent of patients infected with the Omicron variant suffered from a lingering cough. In Singapore, a study led by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases showed that 10 per cent of recovered Covid-19 patients continued to experience lingering coughs and shortness of breath even six months after infection. What’s more, a rising number of flu cases has exacerbated the situation.
Being aware of the type of cough you or your loved one has is essential to treating this bothersome symptom.
“Coughs can be very confusing and difficult to distinguish from each other,” says Sue Low, regional senior medical affairs specialist at iNova Pharmaceuticals.
“If you have a scratchy, tickly feeling in the back of your throat that makes you cough, that’s what we call a dry cough. When a cough produces phlegm, it’s called a wet or productive chesty cough because phlegm is wet.”
Dry or tickly coughs occur when the airway is irritated
Coughing is a normal, protective reflex of your body to clear the airways from irritation.
Dry coughs occur when there is an irritating sensation in the throat. Unlike a wet cough, where mucus is hacked up and spat out to clear the airways, dry coughs do not produce phlegm.
There are numerous causes of a dry cough, such as postnasal drip. Your nose produces mucus everyday but in normal circumstances, you won’t notice this as the amount is small enough to mix with your saliva and drip down the back of your throat.
However, when there is excess mucus – for example, in response to an infection – it can trigger your cough reflex. Dry coughs can also occur after taking certain medications or if triggered by allergies or noxious substances such as cigarette smoke or pollutants.
A Duro-Tuss special created by The Singapore Women's Weekly