Post COVID-19 care: Easy ways to manage dry or wet cough for recovering patients
Both a dry and wet cough are symptoms of COVID-19. If you are recovering from the infection, taking proper care to cure the cough is important.
When the COVID-19 infection was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020, the list of symptoms included fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. As the pandemic spread and more research was conducted regarding the symptoms of the disease, this list was updated by the WHO and institutions like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dry or productive, a cough needs care
If you check the list of symptoms provided by the CDC now, you won’t find dry cough on it any more. Instead, you’ll find just cough as the second most-commonly observed symptom of COVID-19, because multiple studies since March have shown that it’s likely that a person who has contracted the disease can get a cough that’s either dry or productive (wet cough).
A study in The Lancet published in July 2020 shows how certain patients developed a cough with phlegm days after being hospitalised, and the CDC has also acknowledged that it’s likely that COVID-19 patients can develop a phlegmatic cough after being infected. Given that both a dry and productive cough are likely to be symptoms of COVID-19, if you are recovering from the infection, taking proper care to cure the cough is very important.
Tips to manage a dry cough
A dry cough is likely to put greater strain on your throat. According to the UK’s National Health Service, the following strategies can be used to manage a dry cough.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (lukewarm, preferably).
- Take small sips of fluids instead of taking large sips to facilitate swallowing.
- Steam inhalation is necessary to cure a dry cough. So, pour hot water in a bowl, put your head over the bowl and breathe in the steam. Cover your head and the bowl with a towel if you’re comfortable. You can also use a steam inhalation machine if you have one.
- Drink warm water with lemon and honey, or a drink like the Indian kadha, to soothe the throat.
- If you feel the need to cough but don’t have a soothing drink or water at hand, swallow repeatedly.
Tips to manage a productive cough
A phlegmatic or productive cough can become difficult to manage since you have to spit out the phlegm-filled sputum regularly. It’s also important to note that viral infections, especially COVID-19, are contagious, so proper disposal of sputum is very important. You should also ensure that the sink where you dispose of your sputum is regularly disinfected. The NHS recommends the following strategies to manage a productive cough.
- Keep yourself hydrated with lukewarm water, broths, soups, herbal teas and the Indian kadha.
- Take steam inhalation at least thrice a day to loosen the phlegm congested in your lungs.
- Lie on either the left or the right side, instead of lying on your back. This might help drain the phlegm faster.
- Movement makes the lungs function, and it can also move the phlegm to facilitate your spitting it out. So, try to be mobile by walking around your room.
For more information, read our article on Caring for a recovered COVID-19 patient.
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