Getting rid of a cough? Here’s our best advice!
Dust, smoke and mucus are usually the main causes of inflammation in your breathing passage. When the passage is irritated, you cough as a reflex. This reflex action happens when the brain thinks the airway needs to be cleared.
There are three types of coughs.
The dry cough
The dry cough is associated with minimal mucus or phlegm – sometimes even none. It is quite persistent with a constant tickle. Also described as ‘non-productive’, the dry cough does leave your throat feeling sensitive because of the constant hacking.
The wet cough
A wet cough is the opposite of a dry cough. The mucus or phlegm is excessive, and the cough is often called ‘chesty’. A wet cough can be identified if a person is coughing up phlegm, is wheezing, struggling with a tight chest or having difficulty breathing.
The final cough is labelled as ‘non-specific’.
The reason for this is because the cough usually has a combination of wet and dry features. Specifically, it can be just a tickle or irritation in the respiratory tract, which could later develop into a wet cough.
Coughing can take its toll on a person after a certain period. The constant cough interrupts sleep, work and other activities. It can also hurt your chest and tire you out. It is best to try and stop the cough as fast as possible. Home remedies are usually the first to be used before medication.
Drinking lots of fluids is one of the main home remedies. When ill, mucus trickles down the back of your nose. Hydrating thins the drip, which then irritates your throat less, making it easier for the lungs to clear out any discharge. Dehydration activates the immune system to release more histamines, therefore swelling up your nose, making more mucus and setting off a cough.
To help soothe the scratchiness at the back of your throat, swallow some honey. Studies have shown that this works just as well as over-the-counter medication, which is meant to calm coughing at night. Add warm water to a mug and stir in a tablespoon of honey. The liquid is not only hydrating, but heat assists in lowering congestion. Other hot drink options include chamomile tea and ginger tea. Ginger is a spicy root that helps to relax the muscles in the airways. Place the chopped ginger in boiling water for up to 10 minutes, discard the ginger particles and then continue to sip. These hot drinks can be drunk up to three times a day.
Other hot beverages that may add comfort include clear broths, herbal teas, decaffeinated black tea and warm fruit juices.
Because some people are sensitive to perfumes and fragrances in laundry detergents and air fresheners, try to remove these irritants immediately. Clean away any mould, dust or pollen if you have allergies as these allergens induce coughing. Wash your bedding and sheets in hot water, use a filtered vacuum to clean the floors and bleach to scrub windows.
Steam can help to improve a wet cough. A hot shower or bath allows steam to fill the bathroom and by staying in the steam for a few minutes, the symptoms of a wet cough subside. It is suggested to drink a glass of cold water afterwards to cool down and hydrate.
Alternatively, a steam bowl is also an option. Fill a large bowl with hot water. Herbs and essential oils can be added, including eucalyptus or rosemary. Lean over the bowl with a towel over your head to trap the steam and inhale the vapours for five minutes. A cool-mist humidifier or steam vaporiser is also recommended by medical institutions for chest congestion or a wet cough.
Saltwater gargling is not only a simple remedy but also most effective when treating a sore throat or wet cough. The saltwater assists in reducing phlegm and mucus and lessens the urge to cough. In a cup of warm water, add in half a teaspoon until it dissolves. The mixture must sit at the back of your throat for a while before it’s spat out. This can be done several times a day, but should not be given to younger children as they aren’t able to gargle properly and it is dangerous to swallow the saltwater.
Home remedies may work wonders for some, but there are symptoms that make it imperative to go see a medical professional. Symptoms such as foul-smelling green or yellow phlegm, chills, dehydration, a fever that lasts more than three days and feeling weak all point to the need for an appointment with the doctor.
It is very important to get your medical advice from a registered medical professional.
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