The important thing is that only the dry one, typical of viral infections, is cited as a common symptom of the new coronavirus . Knowing how to differentiate this type of cough ( and the rest of the symptoms ) should not be considered sufficient to make a diagnosis unless one is a health professional, but the information can reassure anyone experiencing an isolated episode. And staying calm is also necessary in the current quarantine context.
What distinguishes dry from productive cough
The characteristic that is most clearly seen in dry cough, which is related to the new coronavirus, is that it does not produce expectoration. That is, it does not arrive accompanied by mucus. It is irritative and often causes pain in the throat or chest, in addition to irritating irritation, according to an article published in the Offarm pharmacy magazine that describes the peculiarities of this symptom. Dry cough can be caused by infection with a virus or bacteria, which implies that having it is not an unequivocal symptom of coronavirus infection either, and also by external agents such as cigarette smoke . In fact, it is common in smokers, which is a useful clue to distinguish it.
One of the consequences of a dry cough is that it makes resting at night quite difficult. This causes general tiredness, which, along with fever, is also a common symptom of new coronavirus infections, although for different reasons. It can also be the sign of a case of the flu, but it is not an infallible symptom of this disease. Depending on the evolution of the infection, the flu cough can go from dry to productive (which shows that making a good diagnosis is not easy, and that the self-diagnosis is risky). Productive cough is the other major classification to consider when evaluating this symptom.
The clearest feature of productive cough, which is typical of infections like the one that causes a cold, is that it does shed mucus. Sputum usually forms due to increased bronchial secretions, the accumulation of which triggers the reflex necessary to expel it. Its characteristics usually vary depending on the cause, as well as the evolution of the disease. When the cough comes on suddenly from a cold or flu, it usually goes away after three weeks .
In general, the sudden expulsion of air produced by the cough reaches a surprising speed of 160 kilometers per hour . This explosive quality is a very effective mechanism for clearing the respiratory passages, but it is also decisive in the expansion of pathogens that infect through the respiratory system , such as the new virus. The drops that the body expels contain pathogens that the body has managed to eliminate, but that can end up reproducing in other people. That is why it is essential to use the appropriate masks when there is the slightest suspicion of infection, and cover the mouth with the inside of the elbow instead of using the hands, which are also effective transmission vehicles.