A viral cough typically develops over a day or so and can be quite annoying. It is likely for other symptoms to develop and might include fever, headache as well aches and pains. The indications might recur if an infection involves the nose.
The symptoms usually peak after 2-3 days and eventually settle. Nevertheless, the cough might last for up to 4 weeks after the infection has cleared. The reason for this is that the inflammation in the airways due to the infection might take time to settle.
Management of viral cough
There is no quick remedy for a cough due to a viral infection. It is vital to be patient until the cough settles. The objective of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms while the immune system clears the infection such as the following:
- Provide medications such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin to reduce fever and ease any aches and headaches. Remember that children below the age of 16 should not be given aspirin.
- Increase the intake of fluids if fever is present to prevent dehydration.
- Cessation of smoking. Among those who smoke, it is best to stop. Viral cough due to serious health issues are common among those who smoke.
Remedies for cold and cough
There are various over-the-counter remedies available. Remember though that there is limited effect on the infection but can be used for certain symptoms. An example is a decongestant nasal spray that can clear up a clogged nose.
Take note that cold and cough remedies often include various ingredients. Some might cause drowsiness which is ideal during bedtime if there is difficulty sleeping with a viral cough. Nevertheless, it is best to avoid driving if drowsy. Some medications include paracetamol which is why it is best to be careful not to use more than the maximum safe dosage if already using other paracetamol variants.
Indications to watch out for
A viral cough typically settles without complications. Nevertheless, a secondary infection due to bacteria might develop. This can be serious and trigger the development of pneumonia. Other causes of viral cough such as asthma might be confused with a viral infection. A doctor should be consulted if the following occur:
- Symptoms such as fever, headache or chest pain worsen or become severe
- Breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath or wheezing
- Coughing up blood that is bright red or rust-colored
- Confusion or drowsiness
- Cough that persists for more than 3-4 weeks