Author: Dr Juliet McGrattan

Quick Question – How can I stop coughing?

Last week’s question covered why and how we cough, now let’s consider how to stop coughing. What can you do to ease a cough when your ribs are aching and your sleep is disturbed? As we discovered, coughing is a reflex designed to protect us and it’s controlled by the coughing centre in the brain which receives messages from receptors in our airways. Because this happens automatically, without conscious thought, it makes it difficult to control. Find out what’s at the route of your cough? The key is to work out why you’re coughing. We usually associate coughing with respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis or pneumonia but there are many other reasons people cough. Working out the cause helps to find the best way to make it stop. Here are some common causes of coughs which aren’t respiratory infections: Smoking – A major cause of a long term cough. Acid reflux – Stomach acids sometimes sneak past the sphincter that seals off the stomach. This acid can travel upwards and irritate your throat, this …

My Lockdown Running

I’ve never been more grateful to love running than right now. Since I began running 12 years ago, it’s always been there for me, through thick and thin, happy and sad. A lifeline to cling on to, a power source, a release. Running has helped me in so many ways. Now, when our backs are up against the wall with the Covid-19 pandemic, running is still there and thankfully we are still allowed to do it! I’ve been reflecting on if and how my relationship with running has changed during lockdown. Here’s what I’ve discovered lockdown running to be so far: A Leveller – The possibility that the government might ban me from going for a run has certainly made me consider how awful it would be to lose this privilege. I’ve always tried to maintain a gratitude for my ability to run but this has really brought it home. It’s made me thankful, made me consider others who can’t run and truly helped me to enjoy every second of every run. A Reminder – …

Coughing woman

Quick Question – Why do we cough?

A cough is one of the major symptoms of Covid-19 and a common feature of any respiratory infection but why do we cough and what actually happens in the body during a cough? Coughs are annoying and irritating, both for the person suffering and for those around them (I seem to be as intolerant of listening to coughing as I am of hearing people chew!) They are however a protective mechanism designed to remove foreign particles from the windpipe and lungs. Larger objects such as food that’s gone down the wrong way and smaller particles such as dust, germs and mucous are all expelled from the body through coughing. The lining of our airways contains specialised cells called goblet cells which produce mucous to keep our airways moist and to trap dirt and germs. Alongside them are ciliated cells which have hundreds of tiny, microscopic legs at their surface which wave, waft and move the mucous and trapped particles back up the airways. During an infection we may have a dry cough where little or …

Red blood cells

Quick Question – What are oxygen sats?

We seem to have developed a range of new vocabulary since the onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Suddenly words such as self-isolate, health modelling and social distancing have become the norm. Some of the medical terminology that’s now filling our social media feeds can be unknown and confusing. A question I’ve seen a few times is, ‘What are oxygen sats?’ so I thought I’d answer it in my #quickquestion series. Red blood cells carry oxygen around our body. They pick up oxygen molecules when they travel through the lungs and then transport it around the body attached to haemoglobin, which is a protein in the red cell. Our body’s organs and tissues need a steady supply of oxygen for them to function. Oxygen sats is the short form of oxygen saturation and is a measure of how close blood is to being completely saturated with oxygen. Sats are measured in per cent and the goal is 100 per cent. You might also see oxygen abbreviated to its chemical symbol O2. Healthy people will have …

Active Health Podcast – Swimming after Childbirth

So when can you go swimming after you’ve given birth? Not something you ever think to ask until you’re in the position when you want to go and suddenly wonder if you should! This podcast gives advice and tips about returning to swimming and exercise in general. Listen in to Episode 4 of Active Health right here, on WiSP Sports or on your favourite podcast app.