A change of seasons brings some different pathogens. The summer cough is one of them. And it isn’t one of those coughs which go away in a couple of days; some are suffering for a couple of weeks or even longer. There are many reasons for epidemics such as these, and most occur with the change of seasons, hot to cold, cold to wet and so forth, but with the vast majority, the common carrier of the bug is the human race.
This time we can’t blame an innocent mosquito! We are the ones who spread our germs everywhere we go, exploding an aerosol of potentially debilitating diseases into the air, every time we cough. This is the commonest way of transferring the bugs, by what is called droplet infection. Every droplet is capable of carrying thousands of microbes and looking for another human to infect. The latest bout has been a form of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. This is inflammation of the bronchus, that part of your breathing tube to the lungs before it splits to become the right and left bronchus.
The medical name is therefore “Bronchitis”. Infection and irritation of the breathing tubes is very common. The most usual predisposing cause is cigarette smoking! If you don’t believe that cigarette smoke is irritating, try letting cigarette smoke waft into your eyes and see how they will sting and water. Your Sinuses and Bronchi do just the same! Once the irritation begins, the mucosa becomes swollen, and it becomes easier for the germs to take a hold. With Bronchitis, it generally begins as a slight irritation deep in the back of your throat.
There can be some soreness as well, even on swallowing. Unchecked this develops into a ‘productive’ cough, with loads of gunk being coughed up, which we refer to as ‘sputum’. If you have gone over a week and your cough is showing no sign of letting up then it really is time to line up with all the other coughers at the outpatients department. Just make sure you can describe the colour of your sputum! I should have mentioned that if you are a smoker, the chances of the cough lasting longer are much higher, as well as being more likely to catch the cough from someone else.