With various factors contributing to coughing, from seasonal allergies, to viruses, to more serious health issues, it can be challenging to determine the cause. Superdrug’s Online Doctor General Practitioner (GP), Dr Babak Ashrafi offered valuable insights into distinguishing between harmless and harmful cough symptoms.
He said: “Understanding the types of cough can empower you to take the right steps for your health. Whether it is harmless or potentially harmful, a little knowledge goes a long way in creating a healthy winter.”
Respiratory viruses, such as the common cold or flu, are frequent culprits behind coughs, said Dr Ashrafi. He continued: “These infections can irritate the airways and lead to persistent coughing, usually in the form of a dry, chesty cough. Some of the symptoms can include high temperatures, tiredness, headaches, sore throat and blocked nose.
“Superdrug has provided a competitively priced flu vaccination service, at £8.79 for health and beauty card members, which is free to sign up to, and is available in over 150 pharmacies across the UK. Both NHS and private flu vaccination services are administered by Superdrug pharmacists.”
Environmental allergies like pollen and dust can trigger allergic reactions, causing your body to cough as it attempts to clear the airways.
Dr Ashrafi explained: “Allergic reactions usually happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen. Symptoms can include coughing/wheezing, sneezing, red and itchy eyes or a red and itchy rash.”
In the winter months, the use of heating systems often leads to the circulation of dry air through air vents.
Dr Ashrafi said: “This dry air plus bacteria from your air vents can dry out your throat and nasal passages, causing coughing. Maintaining optimal indoor humidity levels during the winter months can help your respiratory health.”
Chronic respiratory conditions
If your cough hangs around for more than a couple of weeks, it may be signalling something more, like asthma or chronic bronchitis, said Dr Ashrafi. He added: “In this case, it is recommended that you consult with a GP.
“Virtual consultations can be your first point of call, to unravel the mysteries of your cough.” Dr Ashrafi emphasised: “It is important to consult with healthcare professionals for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.”
With COVID-19 causing a range of respiratory symptoms, including coughing, individuals should be aware of the distinct characteristics that may differentiate a common cough from one associated with this virus. Dr Ashrafi advised: “If you have a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell, it might be time to give it a second look.
“Superdrug is currently supporting the 2023/24 NHS Winter Covid vaccination programme which has recently gone live in up to 15 of its stores across England. This is a NHS service so it is free of charge for those in the Clinically At Risk categories. Superdrug also sells lateral flow tests so you can check if you have COVID-19 to avoid putting others at risk.”
A persistent cough is one of the most recognised symptom of lung cancer. The NHS says if you have a cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks, see your GP.
Superdrug Online Doctor provides doctor care whenever you need it, anywhere in the UK. For more information please visit: https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/ or head to a Superdrug store to speak with a pharmacist.
To book a private flu vaccination service simply walk-into a Superdrug Pharmacy or Health Clinic. Appointments for the NHS and private flu vaccination service at Superdrug pharmacies can also be easily and conveniently booked online. https://www.superdrug.com/microsite/flu-jab