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From hack to happy: conquering winter coughs

Ever wonder why you seem to cough more in the winter? It's because your body's clever little cleaning crew is hard at work! Coughing is like a security guard, kicking out mucus, dust bunnies, and even pesky allergens that sneak into your lungs.

Don't worry, though! With a little TLC and tips from your Indigo Urgent Care team you can take care of your cough and feel better quickly.


Why do I cough more in the winter?

Winter can be a bit rough on the immune system. We spend more time inside huddled near heaters which can dry out our air passages. Pair that with the dry, winter air and we get that familiar tickle in our throats and lungs, making us cough even more.

Common causes of winter coughs:

  • Asthma makes a person sensitive to cold air and irritants, and it’s possible to have a dry cough present throughout the season.
  • Bronchitis causes inflammation of the airways that can lead to a cough. If a person has chronic bronchitis, they may experience chronic cough all through the season and even beyond that.
  • Severe infections such as pneumonia and flu can cause a persistent cough. This lingering cough can also indicate that there may be some infection left in your body, and some medication and care will help you get better.
  • Allergens are carried in the dry, winter air. If you are allergic to tree pollen, mold, dust mites, and other common allergens, you may find yourself with a persistent winter cough.
  • Postnasal drip is caused by mucus dripping down the back of the throat. It irritates the throat and causes a cough that refuses to go away.


Home remedies for winter coughs:

  • Hydrate: Water is your BFF in the battle against coughs. It loosens mucus and soothes those irritated airways. 
  • Gargle with salt water: It may taste like you gulped down sea water, but it can help soothe a sore throat and ease coughing.
  • Herbal heroes: Ginger, thyme, and marshmallow root teas have natural anti-inflammatory and cough-calming properties. 
  • Invest in a humidifier: Think of it as a spa day for your respiratory system. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and you can add essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint, which have natural decongestant properties.
  • Steam: Take a hot shower or inhale steam from a bowl of hot water (careful not to burn yourself!). The warm, moist air can help loosen mucus and calm coughs. 
  • Get your zzzs: Sleep gives your body a chance to heal and fight off nasty viruses. 


When should I get medical care for my cough?

If your cough doesn’t go away after several weeks or you have any of the following symptoms in addition to your cough, it’s a good idea to talk with an Indigo clinician about what might be going on:

  • Greenish-yellow phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excess fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss


If you have any of the following more serious symptoms, please seek emergency medical care:

  • Vomiting
  • Coughing up blood or phlegm with a pink tint
  • Choking
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble swallowing


Indigo can help defrost your winter cough

For persistent coughs that won’t go away, visit one of our locations or book a virtual visit from the convenience of home. We’re here from 8 am to 8 pm every day, even on holidays and weekends.

An Indigo clinician will assess your symptoms, go over your medical history, order lab tests, and recommend treatment options or prescribe medication, if necessary. If your cough indicates something else might be going on and you need a higher level of care, our Indigo team will streamline a referral to a specialist.

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