As a Portland family dental care provider, our staff at Burlingame Dental Arts wants all of our patients to enjoy not only outstanding oral health, but great overall health as well. While the weather has continued to warm, cold and flu season is running strong through classrooms, workplaces and households.
While nobody likes to get sick, a recent study has shed some light on the unrealistic expectations many Americans have when it comes to recovering from an illness. When symptoms of an illness, such as a cough, last longer than expected, many people start to become alarmed about their overall health.
As a way to study people’s perceptions about illness, researchers from the University of Georgia in Athens asked over 500 adult participants to state how long they believe a cough should last in a variety of different situations, such as a cough with a fever versus a cough without a fever, etc.
According to most doctors, a typical cough should last almost three weeks. Yet when asked that question in the study, participants stated they believed a cough should normally go away within five to nine days; less than half the time usually required.
As you can imagine from this data, researchers drew the conclusion that a significant disconnect exits between how long most people believe a cough should persist and how long it actually does. The findings of this study were published in the most recent issues of the Annals of Family Medicine.
Researchers found that study participants who previously used antibiotics to treat a cough were more likely to conclude that taking antibiotics will always help treat a cough. However, antibiotics don’t help treat a cough caused by a cold or flu, as both illnesses are the result of a virus. Antibiotics only help to treat bacterial infections.
Researchers stated that it’s not uncommon for individuals who took antibiotics to treat a cough caused by a virus to assume the medication was effective at treating the illness when the cough actually just got better on its own. This misplaced application of the use of antibiotics has many doctors concerns about the potential of patients developing a resistance to the drug.
Still, there are some signs that do point to a cough being the cause of something more serious than a virus.
These signs include coughs accompanied by such symptoms as:
- Bloody spittle
- Body aches
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sudden onset of symptoms
Additionally, individuals who suffer from a chronic lung disease such as asthma should always take a cough more seriously. Even though it’s normal for a cough to last for a few weeks, individuals should still always be on the lookout for potential signs of a more serious underlying illness.
Keep in mind that your mouth acts as the doorway to your body. Protecting your oral health by brushing and flossing daily – along with scheduling regular dental appointments with your Portland family dental care provider at Burlingame Dental Arts – you can keep your mouth free of oral bacteria that can contribute to illnesses all year round. If you have any questions about your oral health can affect your overall health, feel free to ask any member of our staff during your next appointment.