Tips to maintain health in winter
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one in every eight Indians suffers from chronic sinusitis caused by the inflammation of the nasal and throat lining, which results in the accumulation of mucus in the sinus cavity, and pressure build-up in the face, eyes and brain.
Almost 52% of the Indian male population below 35 years of age suffers from a productive cough and a congested chest almost continuously for at least three months in a year. Chest congestion occurs due to inflammation of the lower respiratory tract and is a condition which is caused due to accumulation of excess phlegm or mucus in the lungs.
During winters, more and more people fall prey to this common ailment which is more widespread than diabetes, asthma or coronary heart disease in our country.
Seasonal changes, allergies, increasing pollution levels coupled with a widespread ignorance about the causes and symptoms of the different types of cough during the early stages of an infection are the main reasons behind prolonged chest congestion.
More often than not, busy executives and homemakers do not find the time to visit a doctor or undergo a proper course of treatment, and treat the condition as a minor ailment that will cure itself. Or they end up self-medicating without a proper understanding of their symptoms.
However, this laidback approach towards cold or cough can actually prove to be detrimental in the long run, affecting productivity levels drastically and often leading to far more serious health conditions, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Different types of cough
Misconception in the minds of patients with regards to the kind of cough they are facing is one of the most common causes behind the condition becoming chronic.
The first and foremost step lies in understanding your symptoms and the difference between a dry or non-productive cough and wet or productive cough.
A dry cough is one that does not release phlegm or mucus while coughing whereas a wet cough does. Ignoring a cough, especially one which is ‘wet’ and releases phlegm while coughing can have a disabling effect on your life and make it difficult for you to carry on your daily routine with ease. Hectic schedules, lack of sleep, stress and fatigue will only aggravate these conditions. However, if you are able to identify your symptoms correctly and differentiate between different types of coughs, you can treat them effectively.
Suggested remedies for chest congestion
Most of the cough syrups available on our local chemist’s shelves fall into the category commonly referred to as ‘suppressants’. These are excellent for suppressing a bad case of dry or non-productive cough. However, if you are suffering from a ‘wet’ cough with phlegm formation, taking a suppressant will only encourage the phlegm to accumulate in your lungs and worsen your condition.
A ‘wet’ cough requires a specific expectorant action that thins, loosens and expels the phlegm from the body. A congestion relief syrup that is designed specifically for wet cough can safely be taken for speedy, effective and easy relief from this condition.
Supplementing the congestion relief syrup or expectorant with an increase in the intake of fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, oranges, cauliflower and asparagus; and spicy food such as chili, jalapeno and black pepper may help clearing chest congestions by loosening mucus in the respiratory tract.
Regular walks and steam inhalation and vaporizers also help in soothing and clearing your lungs and give you effective relief.