Cough is one of the most common conditions experienced by people all over the world. It is categorized into dry and wet. Mucus is not formed in case of dry, hacking, non-productive cough. It is experienced at the onset of a respiratory infection. Exposure to cigarette smoke or environmental irritants, allergies, asthma, post nasal drip, chronic lung diseases, acid reflux disease, etc., could be contributing factors. Wet cough is associated with the formation of mucus or phlegm. Lung diseases, cold, chest infections, bronchitis, tuberculosis, emphysema, pneumonia, and upper respiratory infections are some of the many factors responsible for causing chest congestion.
Coughing is our body's natural reflex to the presence of irritants in the throat. This forceful exhalation of air is the body's way of removing mucus or foreign bodies to clear the air passageway. In case of excessive phlegm, the use of expectorants is recommended for getting rid of the phlegm accumulated in the lungs. Sometimes, mucolytics are recommended, as these facilitate the expulsion of phlegm by thinning it down.
Antihistamines or antibiotics are prescribed for treating allergies and bacterial infections respectively. However, one can also get relief by following some of the tried-and-tested home remedies:
- Drinking thyme tea can help provide relief from excessive phlegm. For making thyme tea, add a teaspoon of dried thyme herb in a cup of boiling water. Cover it and wait for about twenty minutes. Drinking this herbal tea will surely help in loosening the mucus.
- Steam inhalation is one of the most effective remedies for congestion. Take a hot, steamy shower, or inhale steam from a bowl of boiling water. This will help loosen the phlegm.
- Put some leaves of mullein in a quart of water. Bring it to a boil. Put this in a pot and lean over the pot to inhale the steam.
- Gargling with salt water is sure to provide relief by thinning the phlegm.
- If you are unable to sleep at night, apply vaporub on your chest. Menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus present in the vaporub will help clear the congestion. Sucking on a lozenge will also help.
- One of the best ways to treat this condition is to use honey and lemon. Take half a cup of warm water and add 2 tablespoons of juice squeezed from a fresh lemon and 3 tablespoons of honey.
- Those affected by persistent dry cough should chew small pieces of fresh ginger mixed with salt. If you don't wish to chew ginger, you can drink ginger tea. To prepare this herbal tea, boil chopped pieces of ginger in a cup of water. Turn off the flame when only half of the water is left. Strain it and add a little honey to it. Drink this twice to get relief.
- If you have dry cough, add a few basil leaves and 2 teaspoons of honey to a glass of water and boil. Strain it and drink twice a day.
- You can also use almonds for treating dry cough. Soak 7-8 almond kernels overnight. Peel and grind them to make a paste. Add a little honey and butter to it. Grind it again. Have this paste two times a day.
- Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to about 30 ml of warm milk. Have it before going to bed.
- Grapes act as a natural expectorant, and can help clear phlegm.
- You can also take 2 teaspoons of elderberry extract twice a day.
- Add a tablespoon of poppy seed powder and honey to 10 tablespoons of coconut milk. Have one tablespoon before bedtime daily, till the cough subsides.
If the symptoms persist even after trying these home remedies, it would be best to consult a doctor.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.