Cough is a natural reflex of the body to clear the throat of mucus, phlegm or any foreign object. Cough can be sudden or frequent, depending on the condition. Acute cough occurs in less than a week. On the other hand, chronic cough lasts for more than eight weeks. Any cough that lasts for more than a week but less than two months is considered as subacute.
Usually, ordinary cough will clear up within two weeks. However, if it continues and you start coughing out blood, immediate medical attention is needed to get proper diagnosis and medicine. Common cough will increase and get worse when exposed to various irritants such as smoke and dust.
Symptoms of Acute cough include:
• Allergies that increase coughing
• Irritants such as smoke, dust or pollution
• Existing medical conditions such as pneumonia or bronchitis that often lead to respiratory tract infection or decreased intake of air by the lungs
Symptoms of Chronic cough:
• Respiratory tract infection
• Long term bronchitis
• COPD ( chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
• Mucus dripping out of the nose and throat
• Lung cancer – may experience coughing that is persistent for more than three weeks
• Blood clot in the lungs
Cough can be caused by any factors, whether it be acute or chronic. Below are the most common causes:
• Clearing of the throat – when a foreign object enters the throat, your body’s natural reaction is to draw it out through coughing.
• Bacteria or Virus – the most common cause of cough is respiratory tract infection, which is a result of bacterial or viral infection. This type of infection may last for a few days to weeks.
• Smoking – considered as the second most common cause of coughing, cigarettes smoking results to chronic cough.
• Asthma – it is considered as the most common cause of coughing in children. Various medicines are prescribed to treat moderate or severe asthma. Symptoms usually go back when medication is discontinued.
• Medication – although rare, there are some medicines that can cause cough as a side effect.
Natural Home Remedies for Cough
A simple cough may lead to various health conditions if not treated properly. Aside from commercially made medicines, cough can be prevented and treated by using natural ingredients that are usually available at your home.
1. Drink More Liquids
One of the easiest and most practical ways to cure cough is hydrating your body by consuming more liquids such as water. Drinking more liquids will make the mucus membrane moist, thus improving mucus secretion. It is recommended to consume lukewarm or hot liquids rather than cold to further increase the secretion of phlegm or mucus. In addition, lukewarm water also relaxes and calms stressed lungs due to frequent coughing.
After waking up in the morning, drink a glass of lukewarm water before eating. Aside from walking up the organs, doing this will clear the throat and minimize coughing. Make sure to consume at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day.
Mix 1 teaspoon of honey with hot water. Add few drops of lemon or calamansi. Mix well. Drink twice a day, in the morning and before going to sleep. You can also consume other healthy liquids such as juice of coconut.
2. Hot Shower
Aside from drinking hot liquids, taking a hot shower can also minimize cough. Exposing the body to moderate heat will help moisten mucus and enable nasal secretion. In addition, a hot shower will effectively ease coughing caused by allergies and colds.
Take a hot shower after waking up. Make sure to use soap and shampoo that are hypo allergenic to avoid irritating your respiratory system. Pat dry with a clean towel. You can also take a hot shower before going to bed especially when cough is persistent.
3. Breathe Fresh Air and Use Air Humidifier
One of the leading causes of coughs due to allergies are the irritants in your surroundings. You may not see them, but irritants such smoke and dust have a strong negative impact on your respiratory issues. Furthermore, perfume or scented sprays can also irritate your respiratory system.
The most effective way to avoid these irritants is by always making sure that the air your breathe is fresh and clean. Although it is really hard to find fresh air nowadays due to massive pollution, a recommended way to cleanse your lungs is to go to the park or beach where air gets better circulation. Stay there for about 10 to 15 minutes each day while inhaling and exhaling. You can also do brisk walking or light jogging to get better air circulation on your system.
To minimize air pollutants inside your home, use an effective air humidifier to filter out dust, smoke and bacteria. This is strongly recommended for households with smokers. Place a humidifier in the living room, kitchen and bedroom.
Since the early times, honey was highly sought for various health benefits including treating cough. In fact, studies revealed that honey is more potent and effective than most over the counter cough medicines. Honey is loaded with antibacterial and antiviral properties that effectively kill irritants that can cause acute or chromic coughing. In addition, honey is rich with relaxing and calming properties that are perfect for swollen or stressed lungs due to chronic coughing.
Mix 1 teaspoon of honey with 1 glass of lukewarm water. Drink three times day – morning, noon and night. You can also add a few drops of lemon to increase anti-cough powers.
Consume 1 teaspoon of honey in the morning after eating breakfast. You can also repeat before going to bed.
Pineapple is packed with bromelain, an enzyme that has been proven to suppress coughing while promoting mucus secretion. However, people that are taking blood thickening medicines and specific antibiotic such as amoxicillin must avoid consuming large doses of bromelain because the effects can contradict each other. To be on the safe side, consult your doctor first to know if your medicine can cause further complication when taken with bromelain.
Slice a fresh pineapple and consume during breakfast and before going to bed as a snack or desert. You can also drink 1 glass of fresh pineapple juice 2 to 3 times daily. Make sure to drink only fresh juice and preferably without sugar.
Most people use peppermint as a breath freshener. But in fact, it can also effectively minimize cough by softening mucus in your throat. Furthermore, peppermint is rich with healing and calming properties that work best with acute and chronic coughing.
Get 2 to 3 peppermint leaves and chew for 5 minutes to get the extract. Make sure to wash the leaves first. To prepare as a drink, boil 5 to 10 peppermint leaves for about 5 to 8 minutes. Pour in a glass and add 1 tablespoon of honey and a few drops of lemon. Drink during breakfast and before going to bed.
You can also use peppermint tea if you opt for easier preparation. Another effective way to use this healthy ingredient is through a steam bath. Prepare a hot bath and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Drape a hot towel in your head and start taking deep breathes over the steam bath. After a few minutes, submerge your body especially the area where your lungs and throat are located.
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