As the weather in Richmond changes from warm to cold and back again, you may find yourself dealing with an unexpected cough.

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Changes in the weather can lead to an increase in coughing, as can seasonal conditions not related to the weather. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help mitigate your cough.

How Richmond's Temperature Changes Can Affect Your Health

Does the weather affect a cough? Absolutely. Extreme temperature changes (either from hot to cold or the other way around) or barometric changes can make anyone cough. A fast drop to colder weather can aggravate an existing respiratory infection.

Have you ever noticed that coughs tend to worsen at night? That's because cool or cold, dry air cause your airways to lose water vapor, resulting in a spasm in the airways leading to cough. Low humidity can also cause dry and itchy skin and eyes, sore throat, and sinus pain. Warm, moist air often helps a cough. However, some people find that intense humidity is a trigger. Coughing can also indicate an irritation in the lining of the throat and lungs, which can have different causes depending on the season. Learn how to prevent voice hoarseness despite the Richmond cold.

Coughing During the Winter Months

Many more viruses circulate in winter, and spread quickly because we spend more time indoors. More time indoors also means more potential exposure to environmental irritants like smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves, pet dander, dust, and more.

The winter weather can also cause a surge in cough-variant asthma, a form of cough that does not have other asthma symptoms, but is characterized by a dry, hacking, nuisance cough that can go on for weeks.

Need to get your cough checked out? Schedule an appointment with us today.

To help with winter coughs:

  • Wrap a scarf around your neck and the lower half of your face when outside to help the air you breathe to be warm and moist.
  • Indoor humidity between 40-50% is generally most comfortable. Keeping your home’s humidity level below 50% is recommended to best control dust mite populations. People with dust mite sensitivity may have more cough or allergic symptoms in winter as we are indoors more often and have more exposure.
  • Some people get significant benefit from the use of a vaporizer or humidifier, but should be careful to not increase the humidity in the home too much in light of dust mite populations.
  • For asthmatics, consider taking any preventative medicine before you step outside.
  • Carry any medicine you might need for your cough in your jacket or pocket to keep it warm, as opposed to leaving it in your car.
  • Try to limit your exposure to very cold temperatures.

Read more: Skip the Chronic Sore Throat This Winter

Coughing During Richmond's Summer Months

While we often think of coughing as a winter problem, many people have problems with a cough in the summer. Usually this is during very hot or humid weather. Smog, pollen, air pollution, or high mold spore counts can all attack lung function and can trigger a cough or asthma conditions.

Another common source of a summer cough is acid reflux -- those refreshing summer drinks that contain acidic fruits and or alcohol, can induce acid reflux which is manifested in the form of a cough. As always, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated, and try to avoid late night snacking/drinks within 2 hours of going to bed.

Those with sensitivity to pollen, mold or other allergens should consider using air conditioning in their car and keeping the windows closed during the summer months, to minimize exposure to allergens.

When to Make an Appointment

If your cough has become problematic, severely impacts your quality of life, or lasts longer than six weeks after a respiratory illness (such as a cold), you should consider an appointment. Also, if you experience wheezing, sleeplessness, chest tightness, worsened symptoms with or after exercise, persistent fever, or if you have a family history of environmental allergies, consider talking to a medical professional.

If you have questions about your seasonal cough, or want to get it checked out, contact Virginia ENT today to make an appointment.