Archive for June, 2014

Five Step Plan to Prevent Winter Weight Gain

June 29, 2014


You don’t need to pile on kilos during the cold months with this five-step plan.

Enjoy the sunshine

Despite our sunny climes, a significant number of Australians are vitamin D-deficient. “A lack of vitamin D can affect your mood, which in turn can affect your motivation to eat healthily and exercise regularly,” dietitian Denise Griffiths says.

This deficiency may also explain that spare tyre around your stomach. Researchers at the University of Minnesota in the US found vitamin D deficiency is associated with obesity.

“Vitamin D levels can usually be maintained by sunlight exposure,” Griffiths says.

You can also ensure your levels are maintained through diet. “Fortified margarine appears to be the major source,” Griffiths says. “Eat fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel, and eggs. There are also products that are fortified with vitamin D, which will add to your intake.”

Heat up your meals

Craving winter comfort food? Griffiths says heating up the light meals you enjoy in summer will make you less likely to reach for stodgy winter food such as fish and chips.

Making meals hot will keep you warm and satisfied. Swap cereal for warm porridge with low-fat milk for breakfast, a healthy sandwich for a toasted version for lunch and barbecues for slow-cooked casseroles made with lean meat and vegetables.

“You still need to keep up your salad intake during winter. Serve yourself half a plate at lunch and dinner,” dietitian Margaret Hay says. “You’ll feel full and less likely to overeat.”

For extra nutrients, add green vegies such as broccoli, spinach and zucchini to salads and other dishes.

“Experiment,” Hay says. “Salads can be warm so don’t limit yourself to lettuce. Try rice, wholemeal pasta, spinach or couscous.”

You can also try including some superfoods in your salads, such as quinoa or black rice, both of which contain antioxidants and other important nutrients.

“Eat seasonally as well. Locally sourced, seasonal foods have been proven to contain more nutrients than those flown in from overseas.”

Enjoy some carbs

“In colder weather, we’re more likely to crave carbohydrates,” Hay says. “Carbs may help to boost serotonin levels, which tend to fall during winter.”

Rather than eating “bad” carbohydrates such as white bread or cakes, try wholegrains and vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.

“Carbs are a necessary part of a healthy eating plan,” Hay says. “Think porridge, seeded breads and oatmeal.”

Stick on some soup

“Have a pot of soup ready to go, with chickpeas or legumes, to enjoy at that hungry time when you get home, rather than raiding the cupboard,” Hay says.

Eating low-calorie soup before a meal can help cut back on the amount of food and calories you eat at the meal, a study at Penn State University in the US found.

Results showed that when participants in the study ate a first course of soup before a lunch entree, they reduced their total calorie intake at lunch by 20 per cent.

Rethink your exercise

“Winter can be a difficult time to exercise,” says Nathan Johnson, an exercise and sport science lecturer at the University of Sydney.

While exercising in the cold air can be exhilarating, if you know it puts you off, rethink your approach. “Move your workout indoors,” Johnson says. “It’s a great opportunity to do a resistance-training program, which experts say should be done two to three times per week for optimum health and strength. If you do this workout in a gym, you’ll also gain access to bikes, treadmills, pools and circuit classes for aerobic exercise.”

If gyms aren’t your cup of hot chocolate, think outside the square: “Winter can be a great time to try new activities such as indoor rock climbing, stationary cycling classes, yoga or indoor team sports such as soccer, cricket or netball. You may discover a passion for something new to continue outdoors when summer arrives.”

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Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Hungarian Mushroom Soup

June 26, 2014

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week - Hungarian Mushroom Soup

What’s the Best Sleep Position for YOU?

June 24, 2014

SleepPositionsWhether you’re a side, back or stomach sleeper, chances are you feel pretty strongly about your preferred sleeping position.

74 percent, according to a 2012 survey conducted by home décor company Anna’s Linens — sleep on their sides, while 16 percent and 10 percent say they sleep on their stomachs and backs, respectively.

And while we can really only speculate about what our slumber styles say about our personality, sleep position has very real implications for sleep and overall health.

Side. Stomach. Back. Fetal: Most people have a preferred sleeping position. But can the way you get shut-eye say something about your personality?

What our slumber styles say about our personality

Several news outlets including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and Fox have recently cited research that asserts a direct connection between sleeping positions and psychological characteristics.

But some experts say there is little evidence to back up the claims. And as it turns out, the recently cited “research” is actually a survey — conducted by a hotel chain — about the most common sleep positions.

Robert Phipps, a U.K.-based body language specialist, then gave an analysis he says was akin to a horoscope.

“Yes, it was never meant to be taken seriously and there was no research on my part,” Phipps told The Huffington Post in an email.

The analysis in question linked sleep positions with different personality characteristics. As the Telegraph reported:

People who sleep in the fetal position are “worriers.” (The tighter they curl up, the more comfort they’re supposedly seeking.) Those who sleep on their stomachs, with their arms stretched are “free fallers. (They reportedly feel their lives are out of their control.) “Yearners” — those who sleep on their sides, with their arms outstretched — have a dream-chasing nature about them. And “Logs,” those who sleep straight, have rigid personalities.

Despite the idea of a “sleep-o-scope” sounding somewhat far-fetched, this isn’t first time personality types and sleep positions have been linked.

According to Dr. Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, in the 1940s, there was an article by a psychiatrist who claimed side-sleepers lacked moral fiber. The article prompted Idzikowski’s decision to research whether there was any link between personality traits and sleep position, he told HuffPost in an email.

Idzikowski surveyed 1,004 British subjects about their preferred sleeping positions and asked them to check boxes with adjectives they felt described their personalities. Through factor analysis of the data, Idzikowski found an association between certain sleep positions and certain psychological traits.

The BBC reported on the results in 2003: Those who sleep in fetal position were said to be tough on the outside but sensitive on the inside, for example. “Log” sleepers were found to be easy-going and social. “Yearners” were open, cynical and slow to make up their minds. “Free fallers” were outgoing but thin-skinned and did not like criticism.

Still, Idzikowski’s research relied on self-evaluations, and he said that when the survey was conducted among a group of Southeast Asians, the archetypes no longer held up.

Philip Gehrman, a professor of psychiatry and a member of the Penn Sleep Center, expressed doubts over whether there’s deep meaning behind how people sleep.

“You can’t argue with the fact that they did in fact find a correlation between sleeping position and personality,” Gehrman told HuffPost. “[But] the link between sleeping [position] and personality is unlikely to be anywhere near strong enough to make those kinds of statements.”

So what does influence the way people sleep? According to Gehrman, it’s simply personal preference.

“It’s really just a matter [of whether] you are comfortable,” he said.

According to Dr. Stuart Quan, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, it would be difficult for people to have their personalities tied to one sleep position, because most people move around in their sleep.

“They will toss and turn. They’re naturally switching positions,” Quan said. “People who say ‘I only sleep on my side, my left side,’ they tend to move.”

On the other hand, correlations between sleep positions and quality of sleep can exist, according to Quan, but such ties are likely the result of pre-existing health conditions.

Sleep apnea, for example, a disorder in which people experience irregular breathing during sleep, can be made worse by sleeping on one’s back, Quan said. Heartburn, too, is another condition that could be made worse by the position a person sleeps.

What can influence the quality of sleep, according to Quan, is what people do while they are awake.

“Nicotine is a stimulant. If you exercise right before you go to sleep, you tend to be hyped,” Quan explained. “Even if you get into an argument with your partner and then you try to go to sleep, those are obviously things that affect people trying to go to sleep.”

Caffeine, medications and exposure to certain light — like that of a laptop — can all sabotage the potential for a good night’s sleep. As a result, Quan discourages people from checking emails or watching television right before bed.

“We tell people the bedroom is for two things and they both start with S,” said Quan. “The other things should be omitted and should be done somewhere else.”
Can’t sleep? Michael Decker, Michael Decker, Ph.D., an associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, breaks down which old-fashioned remedies really work.
What’s your preferred sleep position?

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Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo

June 19, 2014


Abnormal Hearts Aided by Exercise

June 17, 2014


A new study by The Heart Research Institute shows that patients born with a rare heart malformation can definitely boost their heart function by lifting weights. This challenges traditional thinking about the role of exercise in heart disease and has earned an international award for Dr. Rachael Cordina from the Clinical Research Group.

‘Fontan’ patients are born with a complex heart disease whereby the heart has only one main pumping chamber (called a ventricle), instead of the usual two. This causes a ‘traffic jam’ in the heart, as the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs mixes with the oxygen-poor blood returning from the body. “They’re very sick babies, because of the low oxygen levels,” says Rachael, who ran the study.

A partial fix for these children is the Fontan procedure, which is surgery to re-route the blood flow in the heart. This dramatically increases both life expectancy and quality of life. But Fontan patients only have half a working heart. Compared to ordinary people, they can still only manage limited exercise.

Rachael studied adults who had the Fontan surgery in childhood to see if she could improve their exercise capacity with strength training. “We took these people and we resistance trained them really intensively to build up muscle bulk…  to help use the muscles in their legs as a pump to push blood up into the heart, instead of the heart doing all the work.” And it worked! After 20 weeks of strength training, the Fontan patients showed a 10% improvement in their exercise tolerance and greater than 10% improvement in their heart function.

Rachael’s research is challenging traditional thinking among doctors:  “It’s a big thing for cardiologists… to start thinking that resistance training is okay.” In recognition of Rachael’s contributions to the field, she was recently honoured at the world’s largest cardiology conference, receiving an American Heart Association (AHA) Early Career Investigator Award.

Most importantly, this research will translate to a better quality of life and exercise capacity for Fontan patients.

Please note: Older adults and people with medical conditions should consult their doctor before undertaking any kind of intensive exercise program.

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Give Up Alcohol for a Month

June 15, 2014

“The threshold of addiction is a foggy place,” writes Nina Caplan. An enthusiastic drinker, she decides to give up alcohol for a month …

I am not an alcoholic. I don’t get sick, fall down or start my day with tots of whiskey. But I do love wine. I am entranced by the socio-historical and chemical properties of the vine. It is, for me, an intellectual pursuit–albeit one that is also literally intoxicating.

The threshold of addiction is a foggy place. You more or less know when you’re dependent, and you know when you’re independent.

But most of us stumble around somewhere in between: we’ll just have one more; we don’t need it, we just like it; we could stop anytime. My social life runs on alcohol like a bicycle on its tyres: it could keep moving without it, but the ride would be bumpy and uncomfortable and I would worry about looking foolish.

So I decided to give up drinking for a month. How hard could it be? Not that I thought it would be easy: not only do I enjoy drinking, but also I am good at it. I merrily buy fine wine and hold it well. Yet given my lack of discipline, going completely without seemed easier than moderation. I believe La Rochefoucauld had it right when he said, “Moderation is the feebleness and sloth of the soul, whereas ambition is the warmth and activity of it.”

Supportive friend:  “Seriously? For a whole month? Wow. You should write about it. People love to read about the misery of others.”

Less supportive friend:  “In January? Are you mad? What other joys are there at this time of year?”

Even less supportive friend:  “I’m just off out for a lovely evening of dinner, chat and lots of red wine. Oh, and martinis. Envious?”

So I did it. It’s not difficult. Just dull. I felt unsociable. I missed the glow of self-satisfaction that alcohol brings, and the clear division it offers between work and recreation. I would cook dinner for a friend, watch her down half a bottle of wine and feel guilty for not joining her. (It was like when I gave up smoking years ago: I hated being unable to provide the comfort of cigarettes to others.) I missed feeling like part of a tradition of literary self-destruction.

When fellow journalists toasted a departing colleague with bad cava, I sipped water and felt gloomy. I attended a drinks awards ceremony (masochistically, surely) and realised I couldn’t be bothered to talk to anybody. How does one negotiate the cracks in social discourse without alcohol? All of those conversations you would rather not have, all those people you want to talk to but don’t know where to start. How do you extricate yourself from an undesirable tete-a-tete when your exit line is “I really must get some more Pelligrino”? I hadn’t realised just how much fun I thought I was having simply because I had a glass in my hand.

Horrified friend: “Never give up booze. Ever.”

I didn’t miss drunkenness, which I rarely indulge in anyway. Nor did I miss the bad free wine at book parties and theatre openings, as guzzling the unworthy stuff leads to a hangover and little else. I did not pine for pub culture, which mostly involves drinking terrible wine so that the men you’re with can down lager and stare at a television behind your head.

But I did miss selecting just the right wine to accompany a dish at a dinner party (food-and-wine pairing is my favourite party game), and the glass I would sip as I cooked. I missed the bubbles that would dance the Charleston over my tongue in the first sip of champagne at the start of a smart evening, and the rich, spiced raisin of an armagnac at the end of a decadent meal.

Though it turns out that what I missed the most did not involve alcohol consumption at all. For me the biggest boozy pleasure is slavering over a good wine list. It seems I’m less a hedonist than a fantasist. Anticipation is silkier on the tongue than the finest vintage.

The month felt long. I don’t mean time dragged–in fact, the long, free evenings I’d envisioned never materialised. I still went out all the time, and did precious little exercise (despite all those nights of quality REM sleep). But there were no elisions, no blurring of events between the first shared bottle and the second. For a month everything I did was clearly delineated.

So what else did I learn after a month of stone-cold sobriety? That it’s over-rated. There is a reason why people drink proportionally more the less they like themselves: alcohol takes you, as so much slang for drunkenness has it, out of your head. I’m no self-loathing Hemingway or Parker, but a month is a long time in your own uninterrupted company

. Nobody wants to spend that much time with me–not even me. This is despite the fact that I found abstinence to be good for my self-esteem, not the other way round. People keep asking me if I feel healthier. I don’t, particularly. But I do feel smug.

I discovered that I use alcohol the way Susie Orbach claims women use fat: as a locus for blame, a red herring. Off the sauce, I was still tired, lazy and prone to overeating carbohydrates and chocolate. I still spent too much money, talked too much and went out too much. In fact, none of my problems can be blamed on drinking alcohol, except the one that involves drinking a little too much.

With my month over, I’m faced with the real challenge: moderation. Bacchus help me, for my own inclinations certainly won’t.

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Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Beef with Gorgonzola Butter

June 12, 2014



Wise Quotes On Failure from Some Very Successful People

June 10, 2014


I keep Failing in Love, in Business, in Life.

I’m a success, in some areas, because I fail several times a day, and learn from my mistakes. In other areas, I’m a failure, because I fail several times a day, and fail to learn from my missteps. Instead, I take my failures personally—”maybe I’m not good enough.”    Damn right I’m not good enough: that’s why they call it “practice.”

6 Wise Quotes on Failure

1  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

2  Michael Jordan, the greatest, failed often:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.   I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

4   “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” ~ J.K Rowling 

5  “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

6  “You might as well ask. Sure, she might say ‘no.’ But if you don’t ask, it’ll be ‘no’ for sure.” ~ My mom

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Alcohol & Weight Loss Are Enemies

June 8, 2014

almixAlcohol and weight loss are enemies, but an occasional drink can have a place in a healthy lifestyle. In fact, many experts note the potential health benefits of consuming a single drink per day, including a reduced risk for high blood pressure If, however, you are exceeding one drink daily, you might be sabotaging your weight loss plans.

Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. Under normal conditions, your body gets its energy from the calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system. However, this digestive process changes when alcohol is present. When you drink alcohol, it gets immediate attention (because it is viewed by the body as a toxin) and needs no digestion.

On an empty stomach, the alcohol molecules diffuse through the stomach wall quickly and can reach the brain and liver in minutes. This process is slower when you have food in your stomach, but as soon as that food enters the small intestine, the alcohol grabs first priority and is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.

As the alcohol reaches the liver for processing, the liver places all of its attention on the alcohol. If you drink very slowly, all the alcohol is collected by the liver and processed immediately—avoiding all other body systems. If you drink more quickly, the liver cannot keep up with the processing needs and the alcohol continues to circulate in the body until the liver is available to process it. That’s why drinking large amounts of alcohol (or drinking alcohol quickly) affect the brain centers involved with speech, vision, reasoning and judgment.

When the body is focused on processing alcohol, it is not able to properly break down foods containing carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, these calories are converted into body fat and are carried away for permanent storage on your body.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and offers NO nutritional value. It only adds empty calories to your diet. Why not spend your calorie budget on something healthier?

Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways. Drinking may help induce sleep, but the sleep you get isn’t very deep. As a result, you get less rest, which can trigger you to eat more calories the next day. Alcohol can also increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to serious health problems, including stomach ulcers, liver disease, and heart troubles.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which is detrimental to your diet plans. Alcohol actually stimulates your appetite. While you might be full from a comparable amount of calories from food, several drinks might not fill you up. On top of that, research shows that if you drink before or during a meal, both your inhibitions and willpower are reduced. In this state, you are more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which can add to your waistline. To avoid this, wait to order that drink until you’re done with your meal.

Many foods that accompany drinking (peanuts, pretzels, chips) are salty, which can make you thirsty, encouraging you to drink even more. To avoid overdrinking, sip on a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage.

Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many drinkers know they’ll be having some alcohol later, whether going to a bar, party, or just kicking back at home. Knowing that drinking entails extra calories, it may be tempting to “bank” some calories by skipping a meal or two. This is a bad move. If you come to the bar hungry, you are even more likely to munch on the snacks, and drinking on an empty stomach enhances the negative effects of alcohol. If you’re planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You’ll feel fuller, which will stop you from overdrinking. If you are worried about a looming night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.

What are more important, calories or carbs? You might think that drinking liquor is more diet-friendly because it has no carbohydrates, while both wine and beer do contain carbs. But dieters need to watch calories, and liquor only has a few calories less than beer or wine. Plus, it is often mixed with other drinks, adding even more empty calories. Hard liquor contains around 100 calories per shot, so adding a mixer increases calories even more. If you are going to mix liquor with anything, opt for a diet or club soda, instead of fruit juice or regular soda. Sweeter drinks, whether liquor or wine, tend to have more sugar, and therefore more calories. In that respect, dry wines usually have fewer calories than sweet wines.

The list below breaks down the number of calories in typical alcoholic drinks. Compare some of your favorites to make a good choice next time you decide to indulge in a serving of alcohol.alcoholstandarddrinks

Drink Serving Size Calories
Red wine 5 oz. 100
White wine 5 oz. 100
Champagne 5 oz. 130
Light beer 12 oz. 105
Regular beer 12 oz. 140
Dark beer 12 oz. 170
Cosmopolitan 3 oz. 165
Martini 3 oz. 205
Long Island iced tea 8 oz. 400
Gin & Tonic 8 oz. 175
Rum & Soda 8 oz. 180
Margarita 8 oz. 200
Whiskey Sour 4 oz. 200

Alcohol can easily be the enemy when it comes to weight loss. It adds extra calories to your diet, encourages you to eat more food, and alters the normal digestive process. Not only are the extra calories a hindrance, but the changes in food breakdown sends turns those extra calories into unwanted body fat. Alcohol does have a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss, and rightfully so, so be smart about your alcohol choices if you’re watching your weight. This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople’s nutrition expert Becky Hand, MS, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.

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Five Tips to Manage a Cough … after all it is the season

June 2, 2014

cough“Even a little cough can be debilitating,” says Mark Yoder, MD, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Cold and flu season brings on hacking coughs that can leave your chest aching. But colds and flu aren’t the only problems that cause coughing. Allergies, asthma, acid reflux, dry air, and smoking are common causes of coughs. Even medications such as certain drugs for high blood pressure and allergies can cause chronic cough.

Most of the time, people can manage their coughs at home by taking over-the-counter medicine and cough lozenges, removing potential allergens, or even just standing in a steamy shower, says Giselle Mosnaim, an allergist and immunologist also at Rush.

Try these five tips to manage your cough at home:

1. Stay Hydrated

An upper respiratory tract infection like a cold or flu causes postnasal drip. Extra secretions trickle down the back of your throat, irritating it and sometimes causing a cough, Mosnaim says.

Drinking fluids helps to thin out the mucus in postnasal drip, says Kenneth DeVault, MD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

Drinking liquids also helps to keep mucous membranes moist. This is particularly helpful in winter, when houses tend to be dry, another cause of cough, he says.

2. Try Lozenges and Hot Drinks

Try a menthol cough drop, Yoder suggests. “It numbs the back of the throat, and that will tend to decrease the cough reflex.”

Drinking warm tea with honey also can soothe the throat. There is some clinical evidence to support this strategy, Yoder says.

3. Take Steamy Showers, and Use a Humidifier

A hot shower can help a cough by loosening secretions in the nose. Mosnaim says this steamy strategy can help ease coughs not only from colds, but also from allergies and asthma.

Humidifiers may also help. In a dry home, nasal secretions (snot) can become dried out and uncomfortable, Mosnaim explains. Putting moisture back in the air can help your cough. But be careful not to overdo it.

“The downside is, if you don’t clean it, (humidifiers) become reservoirs for pumping out fungus and mold into the air, and bacteria,” says Robert Naclerio, MD, chief of otolaryngology at the University of Chicago.

4. Remove Irritants From the Air

Perfumes and scented bathroom sprays may seem benign. But for some people they can cause chronic sinus irritation, producing extra mucus that leads to chronic cough, says Alan Weiss, MD, a general internist at the Cleveland Clinic. Take control by avoiding such scented products.

The worst irritant in the air is, of course, smoke. Almost all smokers eventually develop “smoker’s cough.” Everyone around the smoker may suffer from some airway irritation. The best solution? Smokers need to stop smoking. (Yoder warns that severe chronic cough can be a sign of emphysema or lung cancer in smokers, so see a doctor if you’re a smoker with chronic cough.)

5. Take Medications to Treat Coughs

When steamy showers, hot teas, and cough drops don’t help, you can turn to over-the-counter medicines to ease your cough.

Decongestants: Decongestants relieve nasal congestion by shrinking swollen nasal tissue and reducing mucus production. They dry up mucus in the lungs and open up the airway passages, Weiss says.

Decongestants come in pills, liquids, and nasal sprays under many brand names. Look for phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine as the active ingredient in decongestants taken by mouth, but be careful. These medicines can raise blood pressure, so people with hypertension need to be careful with their use. Also, overuse of decongestants can lead to excessive dryness, which can trigger a dry cough.

Decongestant nasal sprays, if used for more than 3 or 4 days, can lead to rebound congestion, Mosnaim says. It’s best to use them for 2 or 3 days and then stop.

Cough suppressants and expectorants: If you’re coughing so much that your chest hurts and you’re getting a bad night’s sleep, consider a cough suppressant such as dextromethorphan, Mosnaim says. Yoder recommends using cough suppressants only at night.

When a person has a cough that is thick with phlegm, Mosnaim says it helps to take a cough expectorant such as guaifenesin. Expectorants thin out the mucus so one can more easily cough it up, she says.

Note: The FDA advises against giving cold and cough medicine to children under age 4. These common over-the-counter drugs can cause serious side effects in young children.

Find Out What’s Causing Your Cough

Coughs caused by the common cold usually go away in a few weeks. Chronic, persistent coughs may be caused by underlying medical problem such as allergies, asthma, or acid reflux — or by the medications you take. To lose those coughs, you need to treat the underlying problem.

Talk to your doctor if your cough lasts longer than 4 weeks, or if you are coughing up blood or having other symptoms such as weight loss, chills, or fatigue.

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