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cough Health Blog Banner 9 March

Persistent cough? Here’s how to manage it

A persistent cough is mainly uncomfortable, but it serves a purpose – to bring up mucous or foreign material that irritates your lungs. Coughing can be an inflammation or illness response.

Healthline says most coughs are short-lived because they come from catching a cold or flu. The cough may last for a few days or weeks. A cough that lasts for several weeks, months or years can result from something more serious.

 The type of cough that lasts for eight weeks or more may be chronic. Often, chronic coughs can be treated, especially if it stems from a postnasal drip or allergies. There are rare occasions when a persistent cancer symptom or other life-threatening lung conditions. 

A persistent cough can ruin your sleeping patterns, distract you at work and even affect your social life. Before your book an appointment with your doctor regarding your cough, there are other ways, such as home remedies, you may find relief by reducing the inflammation.

Common causes of a chronic cough

The most common causes of a persistent, besides a postnasal drip (as mentioned above), are asthma-related and acid reflux. You can also look into chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, acute bronchitis infections, and smoking. ACE inhibitors are medications that care for high blood pressure but can result in a chronic cough. 

Unfortunately, there are less common and more worrying causes that may cause a persistent cough – for example, heart failure, lung cancer or cystic fibrosis. An inherited condition damages your lungs and other organs by thick secretion causes.

Home remedies to soothe your persistent cough

Drink a lot of fluids

Mucous drips down your nasal passages when you fall ill. The fluids help you to stay hydrated and thin out the mucous drip. Your irritated throat is likely to feel less irritated and trigger a cough. Fluid also makes the discharge from your lungs easier. 

Without drinking fluids, your body will become parched and lead your immune system to release more histamines. Histamines are chemicals that make more mucous and swell up your nose, resulting in a cough.

Soothing honey

Swallowing some honey helps to relieve the scratchiness at the back of your throat. A study discovered that the relief of honey on your irritated throat is equivalent to using over-the-counter medication. It can also calm nighttime coughing attacks. 

One tablespoon is sufficient when necessary. The honey can be stirred into a warm drink too, but it should not be given to infants under one. 

Remove irritants from your house.

Perfumes and fragrances in laundry detergents and air fresheners can be sensitive for some people. It may irritate your sinuses and encourage mucous production.

Removing dust, mould, and pollen may help if you have allergies. Allergens can cause coughing. It is helpful to wash your bedding in warm water and clean your floors and carpets with a HEPA-filter vacuum. Your windows can be scrubbed with bleach solution.

Incline sleeping

Sleeping on an incline with a cold or allergy is good to ease your persistent cough, especially if you raise your head. If you lie flat, the mucous can accumulate and set off a cough. By using an extra pillow to raise your head or stabilising the incline with books, gravity will be on your side and prevent coughing.

Saltwater gargling

Saltwater not only soothes your throat but loosens thick mucous, too—the gargling of saltwater assists with clearing allergens and bacteria. 

Add half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water, gargle and then spit it out. You can do this as much as you feel necessary.

Cut out smoking 

Your lungs have tiny hairs lining your lungs called cilia. You can paralyse the cilia from cleaning out mucous and dirt if you smoke. This is the reason that some smokers have a long-term cough.

Some research shows that the cilia in your lungs are affected by vaping too. It is important to avoid cigarettes, e-cigarettes or second-hand smoke if you have a persistent cough.

Humidify the air around you

A humidifier, just like a steamy shower or bath, helps to moisten the air around you. As a result, your mucous loosens, and so does the congestion behind your cough.

The humidifier filter must be cleaned and changed as per the directions of the product’s manufacturer. Humidifiers prevent mould, fungi and bacteria in your environment.

Give your nose a rinse. 

The action of rinsing your nose will flush out any cough-provoking mucous, as well as allergens, from your sinuses and nasal passages. Saline spray or nasal irrigation is helpful, using a neti pot, nasal cup or bulb syringe with your head angled over the sink. The items can hold saltwater to pour into one nostril to be drained out of the other nostril. 

Trust your doctor too.

Home remedies are extremely helpful but may only offer a temporary fix. If you are tired of suffering, approach your doctor and mention symptoms. They can find out what you need and prepare you for further treatment.


Most people are unsure of how to claim from medical insurance when admitted to the hospital. The process differs to when you claim medical aid. In the case of medical aid, the hospital will lodge the claim directly with the scheme and will directly receive payment. With hospital cover, the insurer will pay a set portion of the cost, which is stated in policy documents. The patient is still fully liable for the bill and will need to claim from the insurance to pay the hospital. 

As always, you need pre-authorisation before going into the hospital. Affinity Health has a 24-hour hospital pre-authorisation line. 


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