Although it may seem otherwise, coughing is your ally. Despite the fact that a persistent cough can be very annoying, to the point of hindering us in the normal development of our daily tasks, the truth is that coughing is a defense mechanism of our body. Thanks to coughing, we can more easily expel external agents, clearing the airways of dust or infectious pathogens.
If we look at the clinical definition, coughing is a sudden and explosive respiratory maneuver with which the body tries to clear the airways. Physiologically, we can distinguish three phases: first we breathe in to open the glottis, then the respiratory muscles contract to close the glottis, and finally the glottis reopens abruptly to expel the air held by the lungs.
Coughing is a reflex mechanism, to the point that on many occasions we cough without realizing it. However, it can also be provoked or inhibited. It occurs when the cough receptors in the mucosa that we have in the bronchi, trachea or larynx are stimulated. In turn, this stimulation also occurs when a lot of mucus accumulates on the surface, or it dries, cools or becomes irritated by the action of some substance.
There are those who point out that coughing becomes the “watchdog” of the lungs, since it can indicate that there is something that is not quite right in our airways.
What are mucolytics for?
Regarding cough, a distinction must be made between productive and unproductive coughs, referring to the expulsion or not of mucus. The unproductive is usually due to irritation produced by various causes (overexertion of the larynx, contact with irritants, bacteria or viruses). To treat a dry or unproductive cough, it is best to calm it.
On the other hand, the productive one (also called cough with mucus or oily cough) has the function of eliminating mucus or phlegm. Unlike with the dry, we should make it easier to help her with medications such as Fluimucil to thin the mucus and allow this productive cough to help expel mucus or phlegm from the respiratory tract, facilitating the cleaning of the lungs and improving breathing. It is what is known as expectoration.
A productive cough can develop after an acute episode of dry cough, which irritates the airways until they become inflamed and produce mucus. It can also be due to an infectious process, either acute or chronic, which usually occurs as a result of flu and catarrhal processes. In this way, when passing the flu or a cold, or when smoking, there can be an increase in the production and accumulation of mucus, which sticks to the walls of the respiratory tract making it difficult to breathe. This is why it is more common to have this productive cough in the morning.
The productive cough should not be forced or suppressed. It is, as we said, to facilitate the expulsion of mucus, and that is the role played by mucolytics, contributing to expectoration and improving our breathing. They reduce the viscosity of the bronchial secretion and facilitate the expulsion of sputum. These drugs come in syrup, sachets or effervescent tablets, so ask your pharmacist which one is best for you.
Now, if the cough lasts for more than three weeks, we should visit a doctor.