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Keeping you healthy this winter: coughs and chest infections

Woman wearing scarf coughing into her hand
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Colds and flu often cause a short-term cough or, in some cases, can be followed by a chest infection. A cough is a reflex action that helps to clear your airways of mucus, and can be a symptom of a chest infection.

Having a cough can be uncomfortable, but you don’t have to just live with it. There are remedies you can try to help ease your symptoms.

All you need to know about coughs

We're here with advice including treatments as well as top tips on how to recover from a chest infection.

A new continuous dry cough or a high temperature could be coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, you need to get a test as soon as you can and stay at home until you get the results. 

Overcoming a cough

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of cough:

  • ‘Mucus’ or ‘chesty’ ones that produce excess mucus of phlegm
  • ‘Dry’ or ‘tickly’ that product no mucus or phlegm

Most coughs will go away on their own within 3 weeks, but having plenty of rest, keeping warm and drinking water can help relieve the symptoms.

A cough syrup could also help soothe your throat, or you could try lozenges dissolved slowly in the mouth to temporarily stop coughs and lubricate an irritate throat.

Chest infections

A chest infection can lead to a chesty cough, wheezing and shortness of breath, along with pain or discomfort.

You might also experience:

  • A high temperature of 38°C or above
  • Headaches
  • Aching muscles
  • Tiredness

These symptoms can be unpleasant, but they usually get better on their own in about 7-10 days, although the cough and mucus can last up to 3 weeks. 

If you’re experiencing a chest infection, come in store and speak to a member of our healthcare team. They can suggest decongestant treatments to help loosen the mucus in your lungs as coughing up the mucus helps clear the infection.

It’s important to see your GP if:

  • Your symptoms get worse
  • You cough up blood
  • It’s lasted more than 3 weeks
  • You’re pregnant
  • You’re over 65
  • Your immune system is weak
  • You have a long-term health condition such as diabetes or asthma

How to recover from a chest infection

Top tips:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink lots of water
  • Use an air humidifier or inhale steam from a bowl of hot water
  • Raise your head up while sleeping using extra pillows
  • Use pain relief to bring down a fever, ease headaches and muscle pain

For more advice on how to treat a cough or chest infection, speak to a member of your health care team in store or over the phone.

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