General Health

Home Remedies For Cough

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on - 31 January 2023, Updated on - 28 January 2024

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Have you ever wondered why we cough? Every once in a while, we all need to let out a good cough! Mucus, foreign particles, and irritants can get stuck in the airways and cause us to cough. In addition to being a natural defence mechanism for the body against infection and inflammation, this reflex also helps to keep the lungs and airways clear.

Coughing is a symptom of many illnesses, including the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma. It can lead to several serious complications if left untreated like:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Chest pain
  • Incontinence
  • Headaches
  • Rib fractures (in older adults)

Before we get into home remedies, it's important to know the difference between a dry cough and a wet cough.

Difference Between Dry Cough And Wet Cough?

The presence or absence of mucus or phlegm is the primary defining characteristic of a dry cough as opposed to a wet cough. Read on for a discussion of the differences and their root causes.

What Is Dry Cough?

Coughing up mucus or phlegm is medically referred to as a "wet" or "productive" cough. Such a cough is a symptom of the common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma. Mucus or phlegm is made by our bodies to flush out bacteria, viruses, or other irritants from the air passages. Hence we cough! The act of coughing up phlegm is your body's defence mechanism against foreign substances.

What Is Wet Cough?

Having a cough that doesn't generate any mucus or phlegm is considered a dry cough. Asthma, the flu, and whooping cough tend to cause this particular cough. Itchy, scratchy throat, hoarse voice, and trouble breathing are common signs of an irritated airway, which can also produce a dry cough.

According to Dr Manoj Kishor Chhotray, a general physician associated with Apollo 24|7, “people usually suffer from cough due to seasonal change. However, some may experience dry cough, while others may get sputum with their cough. A mandatory clinical consultation is required if cough persists for more than 5-6 days. People may try some common home remedies such as honey & ginger juice, salt water gargle, and drinking turmeric milk to get mild relief.” 

Cure Your Cough With These Home Remedies

The following is a list of some of the home remedies that you can employ to help control your cough.

1. Humidifier

Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can help reduce coughing. Dry air can irritate the throat and airways, causing you to cough. Coughing can be alleviated with the use of a humidifier, which works by adding moisture to the air and therefore moistening the throat and airways, relieving dryness and irritation.

📌 Important Tip 

Humidifiers require frequent maintenance to avoid the growth of mould and bacteria. A room that is overly humidified might promote the formation of mould and other allergens, therefore it's crucial to use clean water and avoid doing this.

2. Steam

Taking a steam bath can help alleviate a cough by thinning the mucus in your lungs and clearing out congestion. Coughing can be reduced because the heat and moisture from the steam aid to soothe and moisturise the throat and airways, reducing dryness and irritation.

You can take steam in by leaning over a pot of boiling water with a cloth over your head. You might also try taking a steamy shower or bath. Adding moisture to the air using a humidifier can have comparable results.

📌 Important Tip

Inhaling steam might cause burns if you're not careful. Keep your face well away from the steam and don't let the room get too hot.

3. Honey

For ages, honey has been considered the go-to cure for coughs. Researchers have shown that it can help lessen the frequency and severity of night-time coughing. The covering it provides the throat can assist to calm inflammation and lessen the need to cough.

Honey's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics make it a useful tool in the fight against illness and the associated symptoms of congestion and coughing. Further, it possesses antioxidant characteristics that can help the body mend itself and make the immune system more effective.

📌 Important Tip

Honey should not be given to new-borns under 1 year old due to botulism spores, and those with specific medical conditions like diabetes should not eat honey.

4. Herbal Tea

Herbal tea has the potential to alleviate the pain of a cough. In this regard, chamomile, thyme, and licorice are among the most commonly employed herbs. The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of these plants are well-documented.

📌 Important Tip

Some herbs may interact with prescription drugs, and it's best to check with your doctor before trying a new herbal tea or supplement.

5. Saltwater Gargle

Gargling with salt water can help calm a cough quickly and easily. Because of the salt's anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling effects, it may be less of a struggle to cough up mucus and phlegm. It also has the added benefit of calming a cough and easing a sore throat.

📌 Important Tip 

Gargle with a solution made from half a teaspoon of salt and a full glass of warm water for a few seconds and then spit it out.

6. Ginger

Ginger's anti-inflammatory effects can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the throat, making it easier to cough up mucus and phlegm. The natural expectorant properties of this herb aid in the loosening and subsequent coughing up of phlegm.

📌 Important Tip

Cough remedies involving ginger include drinking tea made by boiling fresh ginger in water for about 10 minutes or taking ginger supplements in the form of capsules or tablets.

What Is The Best Cough Syrup?

It is usual to treat coughs and colds using over-the-counter medications i.e. cough syrup. Some cough syrups have in the past been discovered to contain opioids, which are highly addictive. Hence, The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in India has responded to these worries by prohibiting the sale of certain syrups. So, it's best to talk to a doctor first, even before using any OTC cough syrup.

Takeaway| When to Visit a Doctor?

Coughing is a common response to the presence of mucus or foreign particles in the airways. You can try home remedies to alleviate your cough. If you still have a cough after a week or two of trying home remedies, you should see a doctor, especially if you are experiencing severe symptoms like:

  • Shortness of breath
  • High fever 
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Raspy voice

Do you still have any questions? Contact a pulmonologist right away if you're having breathing problems.

Consult Dr Manoj Kishor Chhotray

General Health

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