Cough is one of the most common symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections, like the flu and common cold. Here at BCA, we treat coughs all the time, especially during winter and spring.This particular year, we have seen a higher than average number of cases in our clinic. This could be, in part, because “most of the circulating H3N2 flu viruses this season are different from the vaccine virus,” or, in other words, this year’s vaccine was did not include what has become the most prevalent flu strain of the current season. What we have been seeing clinically is a cough that lingers for three or more weeks, long after other symptoms are resolved.

Aside from cold and flu, other causes of acute cough include whooping cough, pneumonia, and inhaling an irritant.

Cough is a protective mechanism for the airways and lungs. Cough receptors are located in the pharynx, trachea and bronchioles and are activated by foreign materials. Coughing removes the foreign material from the respiratory tract before it reaches the lungs. Once the cough is stimulated, air is expelled at over 100 mph!

Knowing that a cough is a protective mechanism for the lungs and airways, you may be wondering if you should suppress the cough. The answer is no-if the cough is productive. If you are coughing up mucus, that’s a good thing. In this phase, it is important to drink lots of fluids to help to loosen the phlegm.

We strongly recommend acupuncture during the productive phase of a cough (as long as you don’t have a fever). Our treatment will focus on resolving phlegm, shortening the duration of the illness, and strengthening the body. We also often prescribe herbs for productive cough.

If the cough [...]