Take a break from sugar when down with cough and cold

Cough and cold are quite common during winter, but ever wonder why you immediately start coughing after taking a bite of your favourite sweet? That's because sugar can worsen cough, says an expert.
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Take a break from sugar when down with cough and cold. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 26 Sep 2023, 16:57 pm IST
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If warm clothes don’t give away the current season, the sound of people coughing and sneezing certainly does! Winter season is all about drinking hot water and soups and saying goodbye to breezy outfits. It is also the season when a lot of people catch a cold. Yes, you do try out home remedies or the easily available cough syrups to stop coughing. But ever wondered why coughing becomes worse after eating sweets? Be it your favourite hot gulab jamun or a piece of chocolate, it seems like sugar triggers cough. Read on to know more as an expert explores the relationship between sugar and coughing.

When you wish to enjoy the chilly months with a hot cup of tea, you don’t want cold or cough to ruin the moment. Any hot beverage gives some relief and it seems like it helps in controlling the cough, but take one bite of a sweet and you are back to coughing.

Health Shots consulted Dr Nikhil Modi, Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi to know more about the connection between sugar and cough. But first, let’s find out the causes of cough.

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When you eat a lot of sugar, it can suppress the immune system. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Causes of cough

Some take just a few days while others take slightly longer to recover from cough. Modi said that a cough is considered acute if it lasts less than three weeks, but gets labelled chronic if it continues for more than eight weeks. He shared that common cold, influenza (flu), inhaling an irritant such as smoke, dust, chemicals or a foreign body, pneumonia, allergy and bronchitis are some of the common causes of cough.

Role of sugar in worsening cough

When you start coughing, people come up with a long list of foods you should avoid. Any food with sugar in it makes it to the “toss away” list of avoiding cough and cold.

Also Read: Down with cough and cold? Here are 4 foods you must completely avoid

Modi said that cough is a vital “protective reflex that is triggered by both mechanical and chemical stimuli,” and sugar can also trigger inflammation. This in turn can make the symptoms of cold like cough worse. When you eat a lot of sugar, it can suppress the immune system, especially when fighting viral infections.

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Sweets can worsen cough. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Can sweet fruits also worsen cough?

We know that traditional sweets or confectionaries in general can worsen coughing, but who doesn’t like to have fruits like pears and strawberry during winter? Modi said that fruits are generally needed in any diet to stay healthy. As for fruits to be avoided during cough and cold, he suggested that you could refrain from eating fruits that are kept in the refrigerator. He explained that these fruits being cold might aggravate the already severe condition if you are down with cough and cold.

Easy remedies to treat cough and cold

Now that you know not to indulge in sweets if you have cough and cold, you should also have a list of remedies to help you get rid of cough and cold. Here are some remedies suggested by Modi –

1. Stay hydrated

Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey help to loosen congestion and prevent dehydration, so drink up. However, avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks, which can only make dehydration worse.

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2. Rest your body

Don’t exert yourself when you are unwell. Take some time off as the body needs rest to heal.

3. Soothe a sore throat

A saltwater gargle can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat, so add one-fourth to half teaspoon salt to an 8-ounce of warm water, and start gargling.

4. Sip warm liquids

Warm liquids like chicken soup or tea might be soothing and ease congestion by increasing mucus flow.

5. Add moisture to the air

Now, this tip is a bit expensive. Get a cool-mist vaporiser or humidifier installed in you house to add moisture to the air. It might help you deal with congestion.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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