What's Going Around: Coughing and Wheezing


The sounds of the season are coughing and wheezing. Doctors at urgent care centers say both are what’s going around right now because viral illnesses-- like the common cold and the flu-- are on the rise.

It can take close to two weeks to recover from an upper respiratory infection. Medical experts say you are treating the symptoms. If you're experiencing fever or body aches, acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help. Antibiotics are not recommended for viral infections.

Coughing, which can be a nuisance, is also a means of protection. Doctor Mike Patrick of Nationwide Children’s Hospital described it as the body's natural way of protecting the airway. He recommended a humidifier to protect against dry air that can irritate the back of the throat and vocal cords. Dr. Patrick said, “Have a humidifier going in the bedroom so at least when you’re sleeping at night, you’re in a nice, moist environment that will help relieve some of the symptoms.”

Doctors are moving away from recommending cough syrup because of the ingredient dextromethorphan and its side effects. The cough suppressant can trigger nausea, drowsiness, sedation and nervousness. Instead, many primary care physicians are recommending a spoonful of honey to quiet coughs. It is helpful and only for toddlers, children and adults-- never babies. The key is to swallow the honey slowly so that it can coat the back of the throat to help get rid of the tickle and subsequent cough. Dr. Mike said cough drops can be a choking hazard for little kids but will help older kids and adults.