The office is starting to see patients coming in with persistent cough. Many of these patients had a respiratory tract infection around Christmas or the New Year. They may have started with head congestion and then developed a cough and mucous production. There may have been some initial low grade fever with a “washed out” feeling. Some patients just took over-the-counter medications, and some went to their family physician and were treated with antibiotics and perhaps some prednisone. Regardless of the treatment, their cough now persists. There may be mucous production, which at times is discolored green or yellow. The cough is keeping the patient awake at night and they may be having some heaviness or discomfort in the front or back of their chest.
If this all sounds familiar, you most likely had a viral infection. Viruses grow along the surface of the mucous membranes of the nose and lungs. What began in the nose is now in the lungs. The treatment at this point is supportive, increased fluid intake to keep the mucous loose, cough suppression to help with sleep and daily activities, and time. Most patients, including myself, want to be better quickly so they can go about their lives. Unfortunately, there is no pill for time. You will usually get better (think 6 weeks) and your chest will be less uncomfortable (the soreness is due to rib, cartilage and muscle irritation) and you will be back to normal, but give it time.