What is Cough ?Coughing is known to be a process that helps in getting rid of the harmful substances from the respiratory tract. Although in most cases coughing is good for the body, it becomes uncomfortable when it is persistent and severe. However, a cough can easily be treated by making use of home remedies or over-the-counter medications. If your cough is very severe or persistent, it is recommended that you seek medical treatment from your doctor.
Symptoms of Cough
A person who is suffering from a cough might experience symptoms such as headaches, sneezing and fever. Fever is a clear indicator of the presence of an infection in the body. When it is accompanied by a persistent cough, it often indicates an infection in the respiratory tract. The affected people might also experience severe pressure in the area around the sinuses. This happens because of the build-up of mucous in these areas. This mucous tends to thicken and exerts pressure on the sinuses. This makes them painful and sensitive. In many cases, the patient might suffer from persistent sneezing. This is true in cases of seasonal allergies. Such allergies cause the problem of coughing and sneezing. Breathing difficulties are also common among those who are suffering from the problem of cough.
Causes of Cough
According to the 'Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2009', an upper respiratory tract infection is known to be a common cause of cough and can last for as long as 3 weeks. This infection is known to affect the pharynx and larynx, which are known to collectively make up the upper respiratory tract. The common causes for an upper respiratory tract infection are common colds, sinusitis, otitis media and pharyngitis. These infections are often accompanied by fever, headache and cough. Allergic rhinitis is also known to be a common trigger for coughs. Allergic rhinitis is a condition that occurs when the immune system responds to a foreign substance called an allergen. You may be prone to suffering from this condition all year long or only during certain seasons. Weed pollen, grass pollen, mold, animal hair and dust are considered common allergens that trigger symptoms of allergic rhinitis. In her book 'Handbook of Pathophysiology', Dr. Elizabeth Corwin states that pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs and lower respiratory tract and triggers symptoms of coughing. In individuals older than 30 years of age, pneumonia is known to occur as a result of bacteria, especially S. pneumoniae. Pneumonia is often accompanied by symptoms of chest pain, fever, sudden chills and fast breathing. This condition is associated with inflammation of the airways as well as irritation of the nerve receptors of the airways. This effect is known to cause the individual to cough excessively.
Types of Cough
There are basically three types of cough: Dry cough, Wet cough and Paroxysmal cough.
Dry cough is commonly known as non-productive cough due to the fact that it produces no phlegm and in some cases, very little phlegm. The Penn State College of Medicine's 'Milton S. Hershey Medical Center' states that dry cough mostly occurs as a result of upper respiratory tract infections. Sore throat, tonsillitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, influenza and head colds are common types of upper respiratory tract infections. In most cases, these infections are triggered by viruses and resolve within a week or two without medications.
Wet cough is known as a productive cough due to the fact that it produces phlegm. A wet cough is often an indicator of any condition that is associated with the excess production of mucus in the lungs. Pneumonia is known to be one of the most common causes of productive cough. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute states that when pneumonia occurs, it causes the air sacs to be filled with fungi and viruses, thereby leading to inflammation, leading to the build-up of mucus and fluid in the airways.
Paroxysmal cough is a condition associated with uncontrollable coughing for long periods of time, resulting in a 'coughing fit'. In most cases, this condition occurs due to whooping cough. Other common causes of this type of cough are tuberculosis, asthma and bronchiectasis. Bronchiectasis is a condition that is associated with the widening of airways, thereby resulting in permanent damage to them. 'The National Heart" Lung and Blood Institute' states that cysti, fibrosis is one of the most common causes of bronchiectasis in the United States.
Home Remedies for Cough
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that peppermint possesses menthol, which plays the role of a decongestant. The menthol present in peppermint helps in loosening the phlegm present in the lungs, thereby helping you to cough it out easily. Peppermint also helps in soothing the throat as well. It can also be used to treat a dry cough. You can take peppermint in the form of tea or tincture. You can also purchase peppermint lozenges as well.
Drugs.com states that mullein is an herb that possesses expectorant and suppressant properties, thereby making it effective in the treatment of chronic cough as well as sore throat. Mullein is usually consumed in the form of tea to treat chronic coughs. You can easily purchase mullein tea from any health store. If you do not have access to mullein tea, you can easily prepare it at home by adding one teaspoon of dried mullein leaves to a cup of hot water and allow it to steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain the tea and allow it to cool. You can consume this tea two to three times each day to experience relief.
Honey is considered an effective home remedy for relieving coughs and enables you to sleep properly at night. According to a research study published in 'Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine' in the year 2007, it was observed that honey proved more effective in treating coughs in children than dextromethorphan, which is a popular cough medicine. As a part of the research study, 105 young people in the age range of 2 to 18 years old were given buckwheat honey or highly flavoured dextromethorphan. All of these individuals were suffering from infections of the upper respiratory tract. The research study showed that honey was more effective in easing the symptoms of cough compared to honey-flavoured medication. Honey is known to possess antioxidant properties and is contributes to the effectiveness of this home remedy. Dr. Ian Paul states that dark honey is more rich in antioxidants than the lighter variety. Honey is also better than other traditional medications due to the fact that it does not trigger side effects such as drowsiness. Mayoclinic.com warns that honey should not be administered to those who are less than 12 months old as it can result in a type of food poisoning known as infant botulism.
Eucalyptus is an herb that is considered an effective natural remedy for treating several conditions such as wounds, fever as well as respiratory ailments. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that research studies conducted on animals proves that eucalyptus possesses expectorant properties and is effective in loosening phlegm. Before you consume this herb orally, it is highly recommended that you consult your doctor, as it can be toxic in nature, if not diluted properly. To treat cough, you can also make use of eucalyptus in the form of lozenges, rubs and cough syrups. You can also add some eucalyptus oil to steaming water and use it for inhalation.
This herb is also known for its effectiveness in the treatment of respiratory conditions. The Natural Health Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine states that thyme was used to treat cases of whooping cough in days gone by. Even today, it is considered to be a very effective tonic and decongestant. It helps to strengthen the lungs and the other parts of the respiratory system. According to this book, thyme helps to strengthen the immune system and keeps a wide range of infections away. This makes it very useful in the treatment of chest conditions such as bronchitis. In most cases, thyme is consumed in the form of an herbal tea. However, tinctures and supplements can also be used instead of the tea.
According to the Natural Health Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine, echinacea is very effective in treating conditions such as bronchitis due to the fact that it is able to counter infections that are caused by viruses and bacteria. It also helps in keeping such infections away in the future due to the fact that it strengthens the immune system to a great extent. The root of this herb is used in the preparation of echinacea tea. This tea can be consumed on a regular basis ,by the affected people. Echinacea supplements can also be consumed along with the tea. Such supplements are prepared from various parts of the herb.
This herb is very effective in the treatment of cough because it forms a thick slimy layer over the linings of the throat. This helps to bring about healing in these areas. Marshmallow must be consumed along with a sufficient amount of water, in order for it to be effective. In the 1992 edition of 'Pharmazie', it was mentioned that marshmallow extracts possess antitussive properties, which means that they are able to suppress a cough.
This herb is also able to bring about healing in mild and severe cases of cough. According to Dr. Varro E. Tyler, this is because slippery elm is a mucilaginous plant. It helps to soothe the inflamed linings of the throat and respiratory passages and this helps to promote healing at a rapid rate. However, women who are pregnant and new mothers must avoid the use of this herb, as it is capable of causing various complications.
This herb is helpful in treating cases of cough because it contains mucilage. Mucilage helps to shield and nourish the inflamed linings of the throat and respiratory passages. According to David Hoffman's book 'Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine', coltsfoot helps to bring about the expulsion of mucous due to its expectorant properties. It is also able to bring the cough under control, as it is anti-spasmodic in nature. However, it is important to note that long-term use of this herb can affect the liver in a negative way and so it is important to discontinue the use of this herb after the cough subsides completely.
Botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk and biologist Michael Wink have written a book titled 'Medicinal Plants of the World'. In this book, they state the effectiveness of anise in the treatment of respiratory conditions such as cough, bronchitis and asthma. Anise contains a compound called anethole, which is very effective in boosting the health of the bronchial cells. It is a powerful expectorant and is able to bring about the expulsion of accumulated mucous from the respiratory tract. Anise is also a very powerful anti-spasmodic agent. However, medical experts recommend that you avoid making use of this herb if you are already consuming anticoagulant medicines as this can result in adverse side effects. You must also make sure to consult your doctor regarding the correct dosage of this herb.
Other Home Remedies for Cough
- You can easily treat dry cough by gargling with warm spinach juice. Gargle with this juice as you wake up and before you go to bed.
- Make a paste from 4-5 almonds, 20 grams butter and 20 grams sugar. Consume it twice each day. Remove the brown coating before using the almonds to prepare the paste.
- Prepare a tea from anise and holy basil. Consume this tea at least two times each day to experience relief from cough.
- Chew a few flakes of raw garlic on empty stomach. This remedy is effective for cough, as it possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Cut a lime into two pieces and rub some black pepper into it. Suck the lime to experience relief from cough.
- Add a pinch of white pepper to a teaspoon of honey and consume it twice each day. This remedy is helpful in reducing cough symptoms and the patient experiences relief within 4-5 days.
Diet for Cough
Dr. James Balch states that white flour and sugar are known to be responsible for supressing the immune system and deterring the process of healing. This is true even for cases of cough. Low levels of cortisol are also known to be responsible for triggering cold and cough. It is extremely important that you avoid fried and junk foods.
Health experts highly recommend soup to treat the symptoms of cough and cold. Healthbulletin.org states that in a research study conducted in the year 2000, physicians not only cited the effectiveness of soup for cough, they also stated that chicken soup was the most effective remedy for cough. Although the actual reason behind the effectiveness of this soup has not been found out, it has been stated that warm soup helps in reducing inflammation in the throat, which is commonly associated with cough. In some cases, having spicy soup is also helpful in treating cough. This is due to the presence of capsaicin in red peppers, which are commonly used to make food spicy. Capsaicin is helpful in thinning the mucus and plays the role of an expectorant. Health expert Bill Gottlieb highly recommends spicy soups to treat cough due to the soothing properties of soup and the expectorant properties of spicy foods.
Consume Enough Fluids
Even if you aren't suffering from high fever, the body can begin to dehydrate if you are sick. Drinking enough fluids will help in flushing out the toxic components from the body and promote speedy recovery. Health expert Bill Gottlieb states that herbal teas may prove effective in soothing your throat and have a relaxing effect on your body. Foods containing caffeine and refined sugar should be ruled out of your diet completely. Foods with caffeine prevent you from getting proper sleep, which is crucial for the process of healing. Health expert Bill Gottlieb also states that you should avoid consuming dairy products as it can result in the thickening of mucus and deter the healing process.
Smoking is known to be one of the most common triggers of cough. When recovering from cough, it is extremely important that you avoid smoking as it aggravates the throat and worsens the symptoms of cough. Regular exercise is also helpful in preventing cough and cold due to the fact that it helps in boosting your immunity. Regular exercise is also helpful in keeping the joints and muscles strong. It helps to reduce weight and boosts the self-confidence of the individual. It is also important that you get enough sleep every day, as lack of sleep may also trigger cough and cold as it weakens your immune system. Health experts highly recommend at least 6-8 hours of sleep each day.
Other Treatment Options for Cough
Vitamins are considered extremely beneficial in treating cough. Vitamin C is known to be a water-soluble vitamin that exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may prove effective in preventing coughs, colds as well as several other health conditions. According to a research study published in 'Urologic Nursing', it was noted that vitamin C is extremely helpful in preventing the occurrence of cold and reduces the risk of developing pneumonia. Foods that contain vitamin C include lemons, oranges, blueberries, dark green leafy vegetables and kiwi fruit. Vitamin D is known to be a fat-soluble vitamin that is considered helpful in boosting immunity. The University Of Colorado Denver School Of Medicine state that vitamin D deficiency may result in cold and cough, especially during winter months. Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin D include milk, fish oil, tofu and fortified cereals.
Benzonatate is a medicine that is helpful in decreasing the frequency of coughing fits. Drugs.com states that Benzonatate is a non-narcotic cough medicine that helps in numbing the lungs as well as the throat, thereby reducing the frequency of coughing. However, it is important to note that this medication should only be consumed under the supervision of your physician. There are several side effects associated with this medicine and they include drowsiness, nausea, stomach upset, headache and constipation. In rare cases, this medication may also trigger chest pain, hallucinations and confusion. When using this medication, it is important that you swallow the tablet and not suck on to it. This is because it can have a numbing effect on the mouth and trigger other side effects as well.