Coughing refers to abrupt or forceful exhalation of air so as to clear the air passageway. It is a repetitive reflex, comprising three successive steps:
- forceful breathing out
- violent release of air
- acute cough (less than 3 weeks)
- sub-acute cough (3-8 weeks)
- chronic cough (more than 8 weeks)
What Causes Chronic Cough?
Chronic cough is most commonly manifested among chain smokers. Nevertheless, non-smokers may also develop this condition, which may be because of respiratory tract disorders (asthma and bronchitis), infections (sinusitis, cold, and flu), and heartburn or medicinal side effects (particularly ACE inhibitors). It may also be triggered by the presence of allergenic particles in the respiratory tract, such as pollen, dust, chemical fumes, smoke, phlegm, and food particles.
When an individual coughs, the muscles of the chest and abdomen contract involuntarily, resulting in an increased pressure at the time of exhalation. Non-stop and chronic cough symptoms are very difficult to deal with. No wonder, cough is a common reason for hospital visits. Before taking help from the doctor, try out some do-it-yourself cures. Following are effective ways:
One of the tips is that it is imperative to minimize the risk and avoid exposure to triggering factors as far as possible.
- For smokers, it is of utmost important to stop smoking immediately. Otherwise, chronic cough will become a lifelong condition.
- For patients who are currently on ACE inhibitor medications, consult the doctor regarding their side effects and alternatives for them, if possible.
- Avoid getting exposed to household cleaning agents, chemical irritants, dust, and environmental pollutants.
- If heartburn is the major cause, make changes in the diet plan to get relief.
- While sleeping, elevate the head portion, or use multiple pillows to help drain mucus and avoid blocking the air passageway.
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate the body and thin the mucus. This comes in handy for quick expulsion of phlegm.
- During cold and dry months, try using a humidifier (or a cool-mist vaporizer) for easy breathing and to avoid dry cough.
In addition to these guidelines, one can also follow several home remedies. They work by treating infection, soothing itchy throat, and help in expelling mucus. Home remedies include:
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey in a cup of hot milk, and drink before going to bed. Honey helps in relieving cough.
- Stir in a pinch of pure turmeric powder in a cup of warm milk. Drink it before going to bed or twice daily.
- For scratchy throat and cough, take a concoction prepared from aloe vera juice and honey. Mix 2 tablespoons each of aloe juice and honey, and have it.
- Ginger root is very good for treating cough. Prepare black tea by adding ginger (and sugar for taste) and drink it while hot.
- Herbal tea prepared with any of the herbs, thyme, peppermint, and rosemary helps to relieve a sore throat. Ensure that it is taken while still hot.
- Garlic is another culinary item that one can use for treating cough. Crush two cloves of garlic, and mix it with 1 teaspoon honey.
- Effectual remedies include having a mixture of honey, fresh lemon juice, and cinnamon powder. Consume 2 teaspoons everyday till cough subsides.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of poppy seed powder and honey in 10 tablespoons of coconut milk. Have one tablespoon before bedtime
- Place hot packs (not of burning temperature) in the throat area to obtain freedom from itching and discomfort.
Since most of the cases are related to problems in the breathing passageway, steam bath and steam inhalation therapy using curative herbs are effective to treat the condition. Aromatherapy oils that can be used in steam inhalation are:
- Eucalyptus oil is one of the excellent remedies for coughing. One can apply it directly over the chest and throat areas. Or else, put a few drops in boiled water and inhale steam.
- Mix equal drops of peppermint oil and olive oil. Use this mixture to massage the chest area several times a day.
- Put a few drops of juniper oil, cypress oil, and ginger oil in boiling water. Take deep breaths, and inhale the steam.
- One of the best chronic cough remedies is using thyme oil for inhalation therapy. One can also consider massaging the chest and upper body with this oil.
- Combine 3 teaspoons each of cedar oil and jojoba oil. Use it for massaging the chest 2-3 times daily.
Foods that cause increased production of mucus and trigger allergy symptoms are strictly not recommended. While dealing with cough in children, it is best to take the advice of a qualified physician, rather than following home remedies immediately.
Disclaimer: This article is solely for informative purpose and not intended to replace the advice of medical experts.