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Kootenay pharmacist shares the 101 on ‘never-ending’ coughs

Q&A on seasonal coughs – what you can do about them
Get the answers you need on a variety of health topics at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy in Kimberley.

The dreaded, never-ending cough is making the rounds once more and wreaking havoc wherever it goes. If you’ve been stuck with ‘the cough’ for the past few weeks, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve asked Michelle Gray, owner of Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy in Kimberley, a few of our top questions on coughs that just won’t quit.

Q: Why is my cough lasting so long?

A: Often these never-ending coughs are actually different colds and flus that are piggy-backing on one another to make it seem like one illness that’s just lasting for weeks on end. Other times our bodies just have a hard time kicking the cough to the curb after a bad flu bug.

Q: Dry cough vs. wet cough, what’s the difference?

A: A wet cough is generally what we call a ‘productive cough’ which basically means you’re bringing mucus up while coughing.

A dry cough, on the other hand, is just that – dry. It might feel like there’s a tickle in your throat which can trigger a coughing fit.

The type of cough matters because it guides treatment: wet coughs can benefit from cough and cold medications, humidifiers and even honey, but dry coughs rarely benefit from over-the-counter medication. Your best bet is lozenges, rest and certain cough suppressants.

Ultimately, regardless of the cough, your goal should be helping your body heal rather than just covering up symptoms.

Q: How can I boost my immunity for a faster recovery?

A: Some probiotics are designed to help upper respiratory health – Metagenics has a good one called UltraFlora Cold. Medicinal mushrooms have also grown really popular, for good reason . Purica offers a Complete 360 capsule that includes a good immune booster. We also offer a zinc lozenge that we make in-store that includes vitamins C and D and beta-glucan for antiviral action. Zinc-based lozenges are generally a better call than other cough lozenges because they don’t just help you stop coughing in the moment, they also support your body’s natural healing process. Lastly FLORA offers a liquid elderberry formula that includes echinacea, vitamin C and licorice.

Q: Is there overnight cough relief?

A: This is a hard one and it really depends on the type of cough you’re dealing with. A humidifier is always a good call for both dry and wet coughs. Keeping your head elevated (don’t lie flat), and as mentioned above, honey can help as well. There’s a chance you may find relief in a cough medicine but there is no guarantee, unfortunately.

Q: What else should people keep in mind with a never-ending cough?

A: Knowing what’s in cough medicine is always important. Dextromethorphan is commonly found in cough medicine and is a good example for why it’s important to check with a pharmacist before taking any new medicines. It can interact with other medication and also isn’t something you want to ‘double-down’ with: don’t take it in a cough syrup and pill form at the same time.

N-Acetyl Cysteine is great for a productive cough. and is a better option if you need to take something for a long period, like COVID cough, COPD, Smokers cough, bronchitis.

If you’re diabetic, keep in mind the sugar level in cough syrups and even cough drops, and last but not least, wash your hands and update your vaccines! Take the time to help stop the transmission of colds and flus by washing your hands, using hand sanitizer and staying home if you’re sick as much as possible. As for vaccines, while they won’t stop you from getting sick entirely, they can prevent you from getting a serious secondary infection.

Q: When is it time to see a doctor?

A: If you’ve had a cough for three or more weeks or if that cough is accompanied by difficulty breathing, a fever, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or other unusual symptoms you should see your primary health care provider to rule out more serious illnesses.

Find Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy at 417B 304th St. on Highway 95 in Kimberley, open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get in touch at 250-427-0038 or at

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