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most effective active ingredients in cough syrup

Most Effective Active Ingredients In Cough Syrup

Cough syrup is one of the most popular over-the-counter medications. It’s a staple for when you are suffering from colds and flu.  So let’s go over the most effective active ingredients in cough syrup and why it’s so beneficial.

These run-of-the-mill illnesses usually come with a pesky cough. This can be either a dry cough or a wet, phlegmy cough caused by congestion from mucus. 

Cough syrups are produced using specific ingredients to treat specific types of coughs. The ingredients you should look for depend on the type of cough you suffer from. 

What is Coughing?

Coughing is your body’s natural way of clearing your airways of mucus and irritants, says Your MD. 

Most coughs will go away without treatment in two to three weeks. However, if the cough is persistent, you have intense bouts of coughing that are hard to stop, or the cough comes with other issues like pain or blood, you may need medical attention.

Types of Coughs

Coughs can either be dry or wet. Wet coughs are also referred to as productive coughs. They come with phlegm and mucus.

A dry cough is often described as a ‘tickly cough’, with no expulsion of fluid. It can feel like a tickle or scratch in the throat that makes you hack.

A subacute cough is a cough that lasts for more than three weeks (acute cough) but less than eight weeks (chronic cough).

This happens when the airways are still swollen and irritated after an infection. This is known as airway hyperresponsiveness and is seen in conditions like whooping cough.

If you have an underlying illness and suddenly start coughing, get to a doctor. Chest pains, unexpected weight loss and swollen glands from coughing are all significant concerns.

Active Ingredients In Cough Syrup

There are several active ingredients used in cough syrup, as well as cold and flu medication. 

Active ingredients are ingredients in a biologically active pharmaceutical drug. It is the ingredient responsible for the desired symptom relief. 

Cough syrup is usually filled with decongestants, analgesics and antihistamines. 

Here is a brief breakdown of those active ingredients and what they are good for:

Analgesics: These are acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. These ingredients work to relieve pain.

Decongestants: Drugs like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine clear mucous from the nose and chest congestion. 

Expectorants: Drugs like guaifenesin that loosen or thin out the mucus in the chest. Loose mucous is easier to expel. This medicine’s most frequent side effect is nausea and vomiting.

Antihistamines: Allergy medication. This medication treats symptoms and usually contains chlorpheniramine maleate, diphenhydramine, and doxylamine succinate.

Cough suppressants: Exactly what it sounds like. These block the actual cough reflex; dextromethorphan is most used.

Warning: Avoid cough suppressants if the cough is the result of smoking, emphysema, asthma, pneumonia, or chronic bronchitis. In these instances, coughing clears the lungs.

Activities like smoking and drinking can hurt the airways, lungs and other organs and cause a cough. A healthy lifestyle means a healthier body, so try to reduce these harmful habits. 

Try incorporating healthier food and warm drinks like tea with lemon and honey to soothe coughs and heal the throat and body.

Home Remedies To Soothe Your Cough

Drink a lot of fluids

Water is the best remedy for a variety of ailments. Mucous is sticky and viscous and irritates your nasal passages when it drips. Water and warm tea help you to stay hydrated while thinning out the mucous drip. Your throat will feel less irritated and won’t trigger a cough as often. 

Without water, your body will become dehydrated, and your immune system will release more histamines. These are chemicals that make mucous and swell up your nose. This is why we use antihistamines when we are coughing and congested.

Incline sleeping

Sleeping on an incline, which means sleeping in a sitting or raised position, can ease a persistent cough. This is especially true if the cough is set off by an excess of mucous and a post-nasal drip. Try using an extra pillow to elevate your head and use gravity to your advantage.

Saltwater gargling

Saltwater soothes your throat and loosens thick mucous. Gargling clears allergens and bacteria. 

Add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Gargle and spit it out. Repeat as desired.

Stop smoking

There are tiny hair-like structures lining your lungs called cilia. If you smoke, you can paralyse the cilia from cleaning out mucous and dirt. This is why some smokers develop a long-term cough.

Avoid cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and second-hand smoke.

Get a humidifier

A humidifier helps to moisten the air around you. It will loosen the mucous in your lungs. Steam is an excellent decongestant. 

Rinse your nose

Rinsing your nose will flush out any cough-provoking mucous and allergens from your sinuses and nasal passages. Use a saline spray or nasal irrigation solution. 

Trust your doctor

Home remedies are beneficial but are usually just a temporary fix. Speak to your doctor about your coughing and other symptoms. Affinity Health can help you find reputable doctors and assist with the costs of good medical care.

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