Treating the Winter Cough

Daily Mail / By Victoria Lambert

A nasty adenovirus is spreading across the country, causing a high temperature, aching head, upset tummy, inflamed throat, runny nose- and a cough like a braying donkey. We asked 

Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi , an ear, nose and throat surgeon at the NHS North London Trust-who's also been affected- for advice on tackling it,

Why has everyone got this bug?

The change in weather is to blame. We can cope with cold weather if its continuous, but when we keep moving between heated environments (offices or cars) and colder ones (the outdoors), it reduces the strength of our immune system.

What is an adenovirus?

There are 57 types of adenovirus, which tend to affect the respiratory system. The virus spreads down your nose then through your respiratory system. If your immune system is not primed enough- through adequate vitamins and rest- the virus takes over. The first symptoms are a runny nose, high temperature and aches. Bacteria builds up as attention is diverted from keeping it at bay and is focused instead on fighting the virus. This means you can develop a secondary infection such as sinusitis or bronchitis.

How to treat it 

Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi Antibiotics don't work on viruses, stay at hoe at stop spreading the virus to others. Use a hand sanitizer and sneeze or cough into tissues. Follow the old advice to sweat out the virus. if you feel cold, your blood vessels constrict and that helps keep the virus in your system. Get your room really warm and wear thick pyjamas. Or take a hot shower and then sit in the steamy bathroom.

Eating well is vital, even though you may have an uoset stomach (the body tries to get rid of the virus by producing extra fluid, which can cause diarrhoea) If children are unwell, chocolate digestives are a tempting way to ensure they get carbohydrates.

What about the cough?

Try a chesty cough linctus ( cough syrup) such as Benylin, which has two active ingredients.

Guaifenesin is an expectorant, which stimulates the receptors in the stomach causing an increase in the volume of fluid produced in the air-ways. This reduces the thickness of the secretions, so loosening phlegm and making it easier to cough up.

Levomenthol has mild cooling and decongestant properties that help soothe the cough and ease congestion in the lungs. Night nurse can help you sleep.

Do I need to see a GP?

This adenovirus seems to last up to two weeks, so dont go to the GP unless there are signs of secondary infection.

In children, this might be persistent earache, for which they need nasal drops and antibiotcs.

Adults should watch out for coughing up a greenish discharge, an unpleasant taste in the back of the mouth and feeling more unwell, as this may herald a bacterial infection, which will need treatment.

To view Dr Ayoubi in the media click here.