There are quite a few things that can cause coughing. Coughing is the body’s natural way of eliminating mucus or foreign materials from the upper airway passages and lungs.
Possible Causes of a Cough
There are usually two different kinds of coughs. Productive and non-productive.
Productive coughs produce mucus or phlegm and is usually associated with an illness, viral infection, a chronic lung disease such as COPD, postnasal drip, smoking or even GERD/Acid Reflux.
A non-productive cough is usually dry and does not produce phlegm or mucus. These kind of coughs are often caused by being exposed to things such as smoke, dust, fumes, chemicals, allergies, Asthma, blockage of airway (such as a stuck pill or food) or in some cases when taking an ACE inhibitor or at the very end of a viral illness such as the common cold.
While coughing is common and can usually be treated with the home remedies below, a chronic or ongoing cough should warrant a visit to a doctor. Please see the When to See a Doctor portion at the end of this article to be sure that your cough is not a sign of a more serious medical condition.
Home Remedies for a Cough
* Honey and Lemon
The mixture of honey and lemon juice can work wonders for getting rid of a cough. There are a couple of ways you can try it to see which way works best for you.
– Use it With Tea
Simply make yourself a cup of tea, add some honey and lemon and drink up with tea is still hot.
– Hot Water Mixture
Not in the mood for tea or don’t have any available? You can uses simple water. Boil a cup of water on the stove, stir in 2 tablespoons of honey and squeeze in a little lemon juice (fresh lemons or out of the bottle is fine) – then drink up.
– Go Raw
For a quick fix simply put some honey on a tablespoon, add lemon juice to the spoon and swallow down.
* Ginger Tea
A soothing item that will help both soothe painful throats and reduce coughing, is to drink some ginger tea. You can buy already made tea or get fresh ginger from your local supermarket which will also work well.
* Drink Water
Congestion from a cold or flu can promote mouth breathing which will increase coughing and throat dryness. Drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day can help moisturize the tissues and help reduce the coughing.
* Drink Something Hot
Drinking something hot and soothing works particularly well for dry coughs. A broth, tea or other warm fluids work well for reducing and eliminating a cough. Especially effective is the tea with honey and lemon (mentioned above) because the honey will soothe irritated tissues and cough receptors in the throat.
* Chicken Soup
Again the warm broth can help soothe a dry and irritated throat which contributes to coughing, but if you add a few pungent spices such as garlic, pepper or even curry powder, it can be doubly effective because these spices will help break up stagnant mucus in your lungs.
Breathing the moisturized steam from a vaporizer or humidifier will help to reduce airway irritation and make it easier to cough up any mucus. If you do not have either available, a nice steamy shower once or twice a day will have the same effect.
* Flush It Out
For productive coughs, flushing out the nasal cavity can be very effective. The best recommended way to do this is by using a Neti pot (available in most drug stores). It is a safe easy way (even for older kids and teens) to help flush out and moisturize dry sinus cavities. Simply add a salt and water solution to the Neti Pot (instructions available on the box) and you should feel relief from the coughing.
* Blow Your Nose Frequently
Especially effective for productive coughs, blowing your nose often will help eliminate mucus before it has a chance to stimulate the cough reflex. One of the most common causes of hacking coughs (especially in young children) is postnasal drip, which is why these types of coughs will worsen while lying down flat. So be sure to blow nose frequently and try elevating the head when lying down to ease this kind of cough.
* Take Heartburn Medication
Quite often heartburn could be the culprit behind a persistent cough. This is because stomach acid can irritate the esophagus or airways triggering a coughing fit. If you notice that your coughing occurs more often in the evening, right after meals of while you are lying down, it is quite possible that stomach acid is the culprit and a heartburn medication will help to reduce the coughing fits.
* Allergy Medication
Even a brief exposure to allergy irritants such as pollen or mold can cause your body to cough as it tries to remove it. You can try taking an over the counter antihistamine such as Benadryl, Claritin or Zyrtec. Other things you can try is to avoid going outside during the morning or evening hours when hayfever is at its worst, or showering immediately when returning home to remove any pollen. Especially effective for children who have been playing outdoors.
* Slippery Elm Lozenges
You can find slippery elm lozenges in most drugstores or health food stores. Sucking on 5 or 6 of these lozenges a day can help stop coughing because it is loaded with a substance that will help soothe the throat, thereby helping reduce the coughing.
* Over The Counter Cough Suppressant
While this isn’t exactly a home remedy, it can work well while out of the house or on the run.
When To See a Doctor
— If you have a cough that has lasted longer than a week
— Your cough is very painful
— You are coughing up blood (or a pink-tinged phlegm)
— You are coughing up a thick, greenish-yellow phlegm
— You are experiencing wheezing
— You have a fever over 100 F (38 C)
— You are experiencing shortness of breath or having difficulty in swallowing
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