ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have a nasty "smoker hack" when I don't have a fever or stomach ache and I don't smoke?

Question

Why do I have a nasty "smoker hack" when I don't have a fever or stomach ache and I don't smoke?

I'm 19, it's winter and I live in MN. I felt like I had a cold for about two days, but then it went away. Over the next week, I've had this awful cough that I can't shake, I finally tried Mucinex, and thats worked best so far, but my nose isn't really stuffy either. I still have this cough and I want to get rid of it. Ibuprofin has helped with the sore throat, due to the cough.

Answer

You are likely having the unfortunate side effects of post nasal drip, which can last for weeks after a small upper respiratory tract infection, and can make life miserable for some time. After you have a cold, even though you start to feel better, it is common to have a little bit of extra mucous running down the back of your throat, especially while you are sleeping. This mucous causes irritation to the vocal cords and the rest of your throat, leading to a cough and a sore throat, and sometimes even some voice changes. This would also explain the fact that the best thing that you've been able to use so far for the cough is the mucinex, as it helps with the mucous that your nose is so excitedly producing. So what to do about it? First, keep getting better, and keep washing your hands. Lots of fluids will help to thin out mucous and make it drain appropriately during the day so that it is not as problematic at night. Over the counter cough remedies might also help. Otherwise, just keep giving it time, and things should start to improve. If your symptoms persist, or you start to have additional symptoms as well, please see your doctor to make sure that there is nothing more going on.

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