You can admit it. Whenever someone coughs these days, you jump. We all do.
The only thing more nerve-wracking than hearing someone else cough nearby is when you feel that little scratch in your OWN throat… followed by your own ugly hacks.
You’re forced to wonder, “Is this it? Is a cough MY first coronavirus symptom?”
For many of us, our first instinct when we develop that tickle is to reach for a cough drop or some cough syrup, hoping to calm the bark.
But experts say if there’s any chance you may have been exposed to COVID-19, or that you have the virus, that could be a big mistake.
Avoiding this cough med ingredient may be wise
New research reveals dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cough remedies, could potentially act like Miracle-Gro for the coronavirus.
Scientists say the compound could cause the COVID-19 virus to replicate faster. But they admit they don’t exactly know what that means yet.
You see, this wasn’t a clinical trial. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that the difference in speed is enough to make you sicker.
Since the coronavirus just showed up in humans for the first time, there’s a lot we don’t understand about it yet. But one thing just about everyone CAN agree on is this finding it’s undoubtedly alarming and shouldn’t be ignored.
One of the scientists who made the discovery at the University of California at San Francisco told KQED News in San Francisco the finding is concerning enough that he would “think twice about using some of these cough syrups” until we know more.
And that would mean avoiding… well… just about all of them. Because that’s how widely used this ingredient is.
Calm your cough naturally instead
But here’s the thing. In the best of circumstances – even if you definitely DON’T have the coronavirus – dextromethorphan is STILL a poor choice.
The drug’s potential side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Plus, the remedies that contain it are often combined with other meds you may want to avoid, such as acetaminophen.
Ironically even if you ignore the risks and take it anyway, you likely won’t get much benefit in the end. In fact, one study found that a little HONEY actually works as well as dextromethorphan to calm a cough.
Another great drug-free option for congestion and cough is to run a hot shower and sit in the steamy bathroom for about 10 minutes to loosen up the mucous. That should make your cough more productive, clearing out the congestion and calming the hacking naturally.
But remember, at the first sign of a cough, or any other upper-respiratory symptom, give your doc a call. He can decide if you’re battling a common cold or if you need testing and treatment instead.