Catarrh is inflammation of the mucous membranes in one of the airwaves or cavities of the body. 

The back of the nose, throat and sinuses are usually affected, and while it can be difficult to get rid of, it isn’t considered harmful. 

It’s often temporary but some people can experience it for months and even years. 

So what are the symptoms and how’s best to get rid of it?

According to the NHS, symptoms assisted with catarrh include:

  • Constant need to clear your throat 
  • Feeling that your throat is blocked 
  • Blocked or stuffy nose that you can’t clear 
  • Runny nose 
  • Feeling of mucus running down the back of your throat 
  • Persistent cough 
  • Headache or facial pain 
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste 
  • Crackling sensation in your ear and some temporary hearing loss

Catarrh will usually go in a few days or weeks, but in the meantime the NHS says there are various things you can try at home to help relieve symptoms. 

These include: 

  • Avoiding things that trigger your symptoms, such as allergens or smoky places 
  • Taking sips of cold water when you feel the need to clear your throat – constantly clearing your throat may make things worse 
  • Using a saline nasal rinse several times a day – these can be bought from a pharmacy or made at home with half a teaspoon of salt in a pint of boiled water that’s been left to cool 
  • Avoiding warm, dry atmospheres, such as places with air conditioning and car heating systems – placing plants or bowls of water in a room may help to keep the air humid 
  • Staying well hydrated 
  • Talking to a pharmacist about suitable over-the-counter medications – including decongestants, antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays

If your catarrh persist or become difficult to lie with you may want to speak to your GP. 

If you don’t have catarrh but our cough is long-lasting it could be one of the signs or symptoms of something more major

According to NHS Inform, a persistent cough may be caused by: 

  • A long-term respiratory tract infection, such as chronic bronchitis 
  • Asthma – this also usually causes other symptoms, such as wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath 
  • An allergy 
  • Smoking – a smoker’s cough can also be a symptom of COPD
  • Bronchiectasis – where the airways of the lungs become abnormally widenedPostnasal drip – mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose, caused by a condition such as rhinitis or sinusitis 
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – where the throat becomes irritated by leaking stomach acid 
  • A prescribed medicine, such as an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE inhibitor), which is used to treat high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease 

If you are concerned about your cough, the NHS lists the following circumstances for when you should see your GP: 

  • You’ve had a cough for more than three weeks (persistent cough) 
  • Your cough is very bad or quickly gets worse, for example – you have a hacking cough or can’t stop coughing
  • You have chest pain 
  • You’re losing weight for no reason 
  • The side of your neck feels swollen and painful (swollen glands) 
  • You find it hard to breathe 
  • You have a weakened immune system, for example because of chemotherapy or diabetes

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