Naturally, coughing is normal and healthy. According to Mayo Clinic Staff, this is the body’s way of responding when something irritates your throat or airways. An irritant stimulates nerves that send a message to the brain. The brain then tells muscles in the chest and the abdomen to push air out of the lungs to force out the irritant. However, persistent coughing can be annoying.
Coughs due to colds, allergies, and sinus infections can be treated by over-the-counter medications, but if you prefer, natural and herbal remedies can help too.
Coughs are also known as tussis. It is a voluntary or involuntary act that clears the throat and breathing passage of foreign particles, irritants, fluids, and mucus. Coughing is part of a reflex and is perfectly normal, in general. Though many coughs are caused by an infectious disease like a common cold, it can also be caused by non-infectious diseases.
What Causes Coughs?
Coughs are caused by viruses and it can clear up without treatment. Coughs can be acute or chronic.
Acute coughs, also called short-term coughs, are caused by upper respiratory tract infection and lower respiratory tract infection. In most cases, the upper respiratory tract infection affects the throat. This includes causes of:
While lower respiratory tract infection affects the lungs and/or the airways lower down from the windpipe, this includes causes of:
Chronic coughs, also called long-term coughs, are caused by smoking, mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nasal cavity (postnasal drip), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and asthma.
Home Remedies for Cough
There are plenty of natural home remedies that can treat coughs. Here are some examples of home remedies that you can do whenever you have persistent coughs.
Honey has been used as food and medicine since ancient times. This sweet and thick liquid made by bees offers several health benefits. It can also be a remedy to treat sore throat. In some studies, honey can relieve cough more effectively than over-the-counter medicines. To prepare honey to treat coughs, you can mix 2 teaspoons of honey with hot water or herbal tea. You can also add lemon tea if desired.
Probiotics may not relieve coughs but keeping a healthy immune system may help lessen fight infections or allergies that can cause coughs. These microorganisms help balance the bacteria in the stomach. Miso soup, natural yogurt, sourdough bread, fortified milk, and kimchi are some food that is rich in probiotics.
Surprisingly, pineapples are also a good remedy for coughs. It contains enzymes called Bromelain which can help suppress coughs as well as loosen the mucus in the throat. It can also be used as a treatment for inflammation and swelling.
Peppermint has long been known as a healing organic plant with several healing properties. The menthol in the peppermint leaves soothes the throat and acts as a decongestant, helping to break down the mucus.
Marsh-mallow is also known as Althaea officinalis is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine to treat digestive, respiratory, and skin conditions. It contains mucilage, which coats the throat and soothes irritation. You can use the root of the marshmallow to your tea. However, this is not recommended for children.
Commonly used in culinary and medicinal purposes, thyme is a remedy to treat coughs, sore throat, and other respiratory illnesses. To use this as a remedy, you can make a thyme tea by adding 2 teaspoons of dried thyme leaves in a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes then strain it before drinking.
Salt and Water
This is one of the most effective and simple ways to remedy a cough as it soothes dry and scratchy throat that makes you cough. You can mix ¼ to ½ teaspoons of salt and dissolve it into 8 ounces of warm water. Then swish and rinse.
Tips on How to Prevent Cough
Now that you know some home remedies on how to treat a cough, you should also know how to prevent it in the first place. Here are some tips that you should know so you could prevent getting coughs.
- You should aim at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. Having enough sleep may prevent you from getting cold and generally other diseases and viruses.
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water helps remove bacteria from the skin. You should also use alcohol-based sanitizers when going outside.
- Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids.
- You should maintain a safe distance with people who are sick.
- You should cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Natural home remedies can help treat coughs. However, these remedies have limitations and you should be aware of when to seek a professional. You should seek medical attention quickly as soon as;
- Your cough has persisted for 3 without improvement,
- You have swelling or lumps in the neck region,
- You’re experiencing weight loss,
- You have severe coughing and coughing blood,
- You have difficulty in swallowing,
- You are experiencing chest pain and;
- Your fevers are not getting better.
In general, coughs are normal and healthy as this is the way to clear your throat from phlegm and other irritants. There are several over-the-counter medicines available but some people prefer natural remedies to treat coughs. However, it is important to know that some of these herbs and supplements need proper use. If a cough is severe or persists for more than a few weeks, you should seek medical advice quickly.