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Coughing – What to do and What not to do?
A reflex action, coughing serves to clear the breathing passages of irritants and excess mucus. Dry or smoky air, vehicle exhaust fumes, chemical vapors, mucus from the nasal passages trickling down your throat, or an allergy or respiratory infection can provoke coughing. A cough may bring up mucus (phlegm), or it may be dry.
The most common cause of a cough in an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, the flu or bronchitis. The resulting inflammation produces irritation and swelling of the lining of the upper airways – and sometimes mucus, which you cough up as phlegm. A dry cough may be cause by asthma, which narrows the bronchioles (small airways in the lungs), often as a result of an allergic reaction to a substance in the air, such as pollen or dust. Coughs are more common in winter and in areas with significant air pollution.
The most important way to reduce your risk of developing a cough is not to smoke. Avoid smoky atmospheres and insist on a smoke-free work environment. When possible, stay out of crowded public spaces during severe cold or flu outbreaks in your community. You can also help prevent coughs by boosting your immune system. This means eating a healthy dietwith plenty of foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits), getting regular brisk exercise, and learning to manage stress.
If you brining up phlegm, then don’t take over-the-counter cough medicines that are designed to suppress coughs. Also, avoid decongestants, which are intended to dry up the mucus. Instead, you may want to try an expectorant, a remedy that will help to loosen the phlegm. There are many natural types of expectorants available from health-food stores and pharmacies. If your cough is dry, try a home remedy to relieve irritation.
For all types of coughs, drink plenty of fluids- choose hot ones in particular. Fruit juice, warm water or hot herbal tea will not only quite a dry cough but also help loosen any phlegm. Avoid drinks containing caffeine and alcohol, however, as these are diuretics-flushing fluid from the body via the urine–the fluid loss makes mucus harder to cough up. It’s also wise to eat a healthy diet with five servings a day of vegetables and fruits.