When a cough isn’t just a cough

When a Cough Isn’t Just a Cough

Cough, Cough, COUGH. Got a cough that just won’t leave you alone? Most coughs are a symptom of an upper respiratory infection—such as a cold or the flu—and can only get better with time. However, sometimes a cough is a sign of a more serious health issue. But how do you know when a cough isn’t just a cough?

Whoop there it is

Anyone who has ever had pertussis—more commonly known as whooping cough—knows it is more than just a cough. This highly contagious bacterial disease is identified by its uncontrollable coughing fits. The initial symptoms are similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and low fever, but after about 10 days, a violent cough develops with a characteristic ‘whooping’ noise—a result of difficulty breathing. The coughing fits are uncomfortable and tend to disrupt daily activities and sleep.

Pertussis is highly contagious and very dangerous for infants and children. If you have a cough such as the one described, see your healthcare provider or call UHS at 608-265-5600 or use MyUHS to schedule an appointment.

There is a vaccination that protects against pertussis and is available to students at UHS for an additional fee.

Minor coughs that do not interfere with sleeping or activities are most likely due to a viral upper respiratory infection.

Cold Cough

A viral upper respiratory infection (URI) usually lasts 10 to 14 days. During this time, nose and throat inflammation irritates nerves of the respiratory tract and can make us cough. At the beginning of a cold, you are typically coughing up some sort of phlegm, getting rid of an irritant in your lungs. As you begin to recover, the wet cough turns into a dry cough. Dry coughs do not produce any phlegm.

Sometimes, even after an infection has cleared, airways continue to be inflamed and sensitive. A cold cough can take as long as two to four weeks to end. Most coughs that come with colds clear on their own time without any treatment. However, you  can soothe your symptoms.

Tis the season

Another factor to consider is the time of year. Is your cough tight and wheezy? Are you experiencing other symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and itchy eyes and nose? Do you get symptoms like this every year around this time? If this is the case, your cough could be a symptom of allergies. Allergy symptoms happen when the immune response is oversensitive to a certain allergen and causes a reaction.

The chronic cough

After eight weeks, a cough is considered chronic. Sometimes a chronic cough is a sign of underlying health issues. A chronic cough could be a sign of asthma, particularly if a person feels tightness in the chest and is out of breath. These coughs are usually wheezy. If you are concerned about a chronic cough, talk to your healthcare provider or make an appointment at UHS.

Keep it to yourself

If you have a cough, keep your friends healthy. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Consider carrying a small hand sanitizer in your backpack for times when soap and water are not available.


Badger Halloween Safety 101


It’s that time of year again. The days get shorter, the nights get longer, the atmosphere gets spookier, and excitement buzzes in the air. It’s Madison preparing for Halloween weekend, Freakfest, and all of the festivities they bring.

With hordes of new people flocking in to celebrate, throngs of masks crowding the streets, and all kinds of disorienting craziness, it’s even more important to keep safety in mind. Check out our list of healthy Halloween tips, and remember that they’re always relevant, not just on October 31!

Freaky and functional: Costumes are fun, but maybe less so when you end up trekking around Madison at night, freezing in clothes that aren’t warm and comfortable. Keep the elements in mind when you’re designing your costume. Bigfoot or Chewbacca sound like pretty good costume ideas right about now!

Plan your path: It’s smart to have a general idea of your evening plans before setting out. Though you don’t need to have a full itinerary, remembering your destination(s) is an easy way to keep your group from wandering down an unknown path and ending up somewhere dangerous.

Remember the magic number: In case you do end up somewhere spooky and unfamiliar, it’s helpful to have the number of a cab company saved in your phone and some spare cash in your wallet. Be sure to charge your phone completely before going out, too, so you’re not stranded without a way to contact help.

Don’t get lost in the corn maze: Familiar surroundings can feel totally foreign and confusing when they’re filled with unusual crowds of costumed, unknown faces. Keep tabs on your location and look for familiar landmarks. Google Maps always comes in handy for this one!

Stick with your wolf pack: You’ve probably heard this one a thousand times, but during Halloween weekend, it’s more important than ever. There’s power in numbers. Stay with your crew to keep safe.

Nix the disappearing act: And if you leave your group, be sure to tell someone where you’re going, even if it’s just to the bathroom. And always bring someone with you!

Beware of mysterious potions: If you’re out at the bars or a party, be sure not to accept drinks from people you don’t know. And likewise, if you set your drink down, keep an eye on it.

Flu Shot Clinic/Walk-In Info

It’s flu season! If you haven’t heard by now, UHS is offering free flu shots to UW students at our walk-in clinic. All you need is your student ID!

When: Now through  Nov. 14, 9 am – 4:30 pm

Where: UHS, 333 East Campus Mall, 6th floor, Green Clinic (just follow the badger paws)

Who: Any registered UW-Madison student with an ID! If you’re really not a needle person, we also offer a nasal spray vaccine for $5.

If you have any of these conditions, however, you should consult with a doctor before getting the shot:

  • Severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • Had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
  • Developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine in the past.

How: Just walk right up! It’s helpful to wear a short sleeved shirt or a shirt with loose sleeves that can easily be rolled above the elbow.

Why: The flu is easily spread, especially considering how often you’re around other people on a campus this size. Also since the virus changes each year, it’s important to keep up to date on your immunization so that you’re effectively protected.

Not convinced? Check out our flu page to learn more about the virus and protecting yourself against it! Stay healthy this flu season, Badgers!

Relaxing and Meditation 101

Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax your muscles. Find your happy place. Let go of your stress. Focus on breathing.

Those are the sounds of meditation—a practice that produces deep relaxation and eases stress. Even if you only have time to do it for a few minutes, meditation can improve your emotional health and general wellbeing if you train yourself to do it well.

Benefits of meditation

  • Allows you to gain new perspectives
  • Helps manage stress and relieve anxiety
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Helps you focus on the present

What you need:

  • Focused attention
  • Relaxed breathing
  • Quiet setting
  • Comfortable position

Types of meditation

A meditation session should last anywhere from 10-20 minutes and usually involves slow, repetitive and consistent breathing. Some popular types of meditation include:

  • Guided: visualizing a relaxing place, incorporating as many senses as possible. Usually let by an instructor
  • Mantra: repeating a calming word or phrase to ward off distracting thoughts
  • Mindfulness: focuses on increasing your conscious awareness of the present moment
  • Yoga: gentle exercise and stretching combined with controlled breathing to promote a flexible body and calm mind.

These are great techniques to practice if you need a study break, are feeling overwhelmed, or even right before bed, to help you re-center and unwind.

Don’t have time for an intense meditation session?

Integrate meditation into your everyday routine

  • Practice breathing deeply
  • Repeat a mantra
  • Walk and meditate
    • Slow down your pace and focus on the movement of your legs. This type of concentration will help you free your mind, and goes hand in hand with “mindfulness” meditation, or heightened awareness of your physical surroundings.
  • Read and reflect
    • Try reading a poem and quietly reflect on its meaning.

With the stress of every day college life, just remember that it’s OK to take a step back, unwind and R-E-L-A-X. Try out some of these strategies and see what works for you!

Take a meditation class with UHS!

Through meditation classes at UHS, you’ll be introduced to the general principles and benefits of meditation. You’ll also practice of some of the different types of meditation including: breathing-focused, mantra-focused, loving kindness, humming, third eye, and chakra.

Wednesdays | Noon – 1 pm (Union South)
Open to students, faculty, and staff
No cost, no registration required
See TITU for room information