Certain beliefs about a cough have been going around for such a long time that they are now treated as if they were facts by many people. In truth, however, some of them may be inaccurate, if not downright false.
Debunking Cough Myths
Some of these cough myths are quite harmless, while others are not so innocuous, especially if you apply them in dealing with your sick child.
What are these common cough myths, and why should they be debunked?
Check out the list below:
1. People can catch all types of a cough.
Fact: Some coughs are contagious, but others aren’t.
Believing in this myth may end up becoming detrimental to your child’s health if you overreact.
For instance, if you’re paranoid about them catching an asthma-related cough from their friend, you might disinfect and sanitize everything, including your child, even when it’s unnecessary.
This is usually a problem with over-meticulous parents. In their desire to shield their children from germs, they end up making their little ones more susceptible to infection. True protection emanates from the body’s immune system— if your child has strong immunity, he or she won’t catch bugs or germs so easily.
On the other hand, if your child suffers from allergy-related coughing and you make him or she stay home so he or she won’t unwittingly start an epidemic in school or daycare, then you might be unnecessarily holding your child back, and for long periods, too, if allergies are the issue. This could also give your child the wrong idea about allergies, and perhaps even encourage hypochondria.
2. You can gauge the severity of a cough through the mucus.
The general impression that people have is that thick and colored mucus is a sure sign of infection. The problem here is that you might think that a cough is a minor case with the absence of mucus. However, even dry cough can be a symptom of something serious, like pneumonia.
Instead of focusing on mucus, look to duration to better assess the seriousness of a cough. If your child’s cough has been lingering for weeks, even if there’s no mucus, see a doctor immediately.
3. All coughs are self-limiting.
A cough is the body’s way of ridding your respiratory tract of mucus and other irritants. Cough formulations can provide symptomatic relief.
If your child has a cough, do not immediately assume that it’s something that will go away on its own. Watch out for other symptoms and, if a cough is worsening or lingering, take your child to the doctor.
4. Taking cough medicines may lead to dependence.
While there are addicted individuals who may resort to abusing cough syrup to get their fix, taking cough medicine to treat a cough in itself is perfectly safe, especially if it has been prescribed by the doctor.
If you have a child who is suffering from coughing fits, it is recommended that you give him or her something that would effectively get rid of it. Coughing is very uncomfortable and it might strain the throat if allowed to linger.
5. Cough medicines are essentially the same.
There are different terms for cough medicines for a reason. A productive cough is treated with an expectorant as it loosens phlegm, allowing the body to cough it up and out. When it comes to a non-productive cough, a suppressant works best.
Make sure that you give your child the appropriate cough medicine to specifically address the kind of a cough he or she has.
6. Antibiotics are the answer to any cough-related illness.
Antibiotics are intended for fighting bacteria. They have no effect whatsoever on viruses. This means that if your child’s cough is caused by the common cold or the flu, you should lay off the antibiotics since both are types of viral infections.
The incorrect use of antibiotics has a detrimental effect on the body. There are now superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics because of this abuse.
7. Hot liquids can get rid of a cough.
Coughs are caused by an underlying condition. Be it allergies, a cold, or a serious bronchial issue, that’s what you have to treat in order to fully get rid of a cough.
Hot soup or tea can soothe the throat and temporarily clear the airway, making the body feel better. Cough medicines can provide relief from a cough itself, but to completely cure it, you have to target the cause. Hot liquids aren’t going to do that.
Knowledge Trumps General Belief
You have to understand the nature or root cause of a cough to be able to effectively deal with it.
To effectively help your coughing child, it’s best to rely on correct, scientific knowledge and your doctor’s prescription than non-expert advice, no matter how long it has been around.