Notes from the editor
Our reporter Aishwarya has been a very worried young lady these last several months. The source of her anxiety – a nagging cough that started all the way back in January 2014 and wouldn’t go away, despite consulting many doctors and swallowing pills, cough drops, syrups and even herbal remedies. A bottle of Benadryl and strips of Strepsils had found a permanent place in her bag. In the beginning the hacking was just a nuisance and an embarrassment. “Often at interviews I had to stop the recorder to cough,” she complains. “When you have to do this 5-6 times in a single meeting, people look askance. But I wasn’t yet concerned because I thought it was the result of too many cold drinks and ice cubes.” But as the days progressed into weeks and months with no sign of the cough ceasing, Aishwarya started getting anxious. She was losing sleep and was unable to concentrate at the job. “When I’m talking to someone, instead of focusing on what they’re saying, all I could think of was the tickle in my throat that signaled a cough was on the way.” People told her she looked ill (“which was probably more due to the fatigue from persistent coughing and losing sleep than the cough itself”) and enquired “whether I had asthma/low hemoglobin/tonsils/TB. One taxiwalla commented, ‘Madam, aap bahut bemaar ho kya?’” The cough which appeared to worsen in the months of September and October drained her energy, made her eyes red and gave her a little chest pain too. And the cough syrups made her sleepy during the day. The last doctor Aishwarya consulted pushed her to get a blood test and an X-ray. Good news – no asthma, no TB. So what was causing the cough? Possibly a poorly maintained AC in the office, said the doctor. Breathing in the dust particles that the AC was spewing into a room where she spent several hours daily, together with the congestion caused by cold air was triggering the cough. Knowing the source of her problems was just the first step however. Aishwarya still had to get the right fit of medication. The fresh set of antihistamines prescribed left her feeling nauseated and dopey all day. Fortunately the expectorant brought out most of the trapped gunk and, to her great relief, the cough has almost disappeared. As our article ‘That Nagging Cough” in this issue will tell you, you need to exert a lot of patience and put in plenty of detective work to track down the source of your persistent hacking. But while that may provide you with some answers, it is just the beginning of your solution. As our reporter recognizes, ‘I’ve got to start exercising and get fitter so that these small health problems don’t magnify into a bigger nuisance.” After all, if you can’t change the environment you work in, you can at least change the way your body responds to it.