What exactly causes a cough?
A cough can be part and parcel of a cold or virus, however once the other symptoms go away, a cough can sometimes linger on. Coughing is vital for clearing our throat and breathing passage of foreign particles and mucus. It’s our body’s way of allowing us to breathe more easily and clearly protecting us from anything unwanted getting into our lungs and windpipe. A cough that has stayed with you for more than three weeks should be seen by a doctor and could have a more underlying cause, however, having a stubborn cough can be quite normal and could be caused by allergies, dusty environments, dry air or remnants of a cold.
How do I stop coughing?
Persistent coughs can be extremely irritating and can sometimes feel like they will never go away. Not only is it physically uncomfortable, but the look of annoyance you get when your noisy, unstoppable reflex is the only sound in a quiet room, can be embarrassing and all you want to do is stop coughing. The solution to ridding ourselves of an incessant hack can be found in over-the-counter medicine or cough syrups but for those that prefer to stay away from the chemicals, the alternative can be natural home remedies. Here are ten cheap, quick but effective remedies you can source from home.
A well-known helper when it comes to colds and flu symptoms, honey is a super remedy. It’s antibacterial properties can help rid bad bacteria hanging around in the throat and aid recovery very quickly. The thick stickiness coats the throat and helps relieve any soreness that can develop from constant coughing. A study was done at Penn State College of Medicine that showed honey was more effective than cough medicines when given to children.
How to use it: The best way to use honey as a cough remedy is to have it straight from the spoon as the stickiness will help coat your throat. Try using thicker forms of honey and organic brands if possible. Have 1-3 tablespoons throughout the day when you feel you need the relief.
Used as a cold and flu remedy, herbalists have been using thyme for centuries. Like honey, the herb is antibacterial as well as spasmolytic which means it helps calm a hacking cough. Not only that but it’s an expectorant which fights off excess mucus – a rather odious side-effect. Thyme, therefore, is a great way of quelling that cough.
How to use: Infusing thyme in hot water is the most effective way to use this herb for relieving symptoms. Crush a few sprigs into a cup and pour boiling water over it letting it steep for around ten minutes, remove the thyme and drink.
3. Salt water
A persistent cough can start to cause inflammation in the throat and become increasingly uncomfortable. Gargling salt water is a cheap and effective way to eliminate soreness by drawing excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat. The act of gargling can also loosen phlegm and mucus clearing the passageway.
How to use: Dissolve one teaspoon of salt into warm water and gargle for ten seconds. Repeat several times throughout the day making sure to rinse your mouth with plain water lessening the amount of salt entering the body.
4. Water for hydration
A sometimes overlooked remedy is making sure you are kept hydrated. Dehydration can help worsen symptoms and slows down your path to recovery. Drinking plenty of water can also loosen mucus and soothe an irritated throat.
How to use: Always keep a cool glass of water with you and drink whenever you can. Drinking herbal or lemon tea counts towards your water intake too and helps stop coughing.
It won’t win you any kissing contests but if you’re a fan of garlic and don’t mind the smelly breath it creates, then this could be a good remedy for your irritating cough. Again, garlic is antibacterial and contains antiviral properties. It’s most effective for dry cough due to the presence of an agent called allicin. It also acts as an expectorant so will help bring up any stubborn mucus.
How to use: You’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need to chomp on a clove of garlic for this to work. Add a few cloves to a glass of boiling water and allow them to infuse for 10 minutes. You can drink this straight or add a touch of honey to take away the garlicky taste.
Along with honey, lemons are probably one of the well-known aids in cold and flu symptoms. In fact, lemons are quite the superfood contributing to all sorts of health benefits. In terms of a cough, its antibacterial properties help to calm soreness and together with honey makes the perfect taste combination.
How to use: The best way of using lemons is to combine a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with a good tablespoon of honey and stir well. You can always combine any of the other remedies in there with it for a cough-busting combination.
Peppermint leaves are well-known for their healing properties. The menthol acts as a decongestant that helps draw out the mucus and soothe the throat, relieving a dry cough.
How to use: Always use fresh peppermint leaves to get the best goodness. Infuse them in boiling water to make peppermint tea or in a large bowl and use it inhale and steam to release the phlegm in the throat.
8. Steaming with essential oils
As well as using peppermint to steam with, essential oils can work wonders by loosening the mucus and phlegm in the throat. There are many different oils you can use but the most effective when relieving symptoms of coughs is eucalyptus. Along with tea tree oil, it contains anti-inflammatory healing properties which can help soothe inflamed tissue.
How to use: Pour boiling water into a large bowl and add a few drops of essential oil into the water. Leave to infuse for a minute or so and drape a clean towel over your head and shoulders. Take deep breathes directly over the water.
Ginger is actually commonly found in cough medicines as it’s a natural analgesic which means it helps with pain relief. Its anti-inflammatory properties acts as a cleanser to the respiratory system and helps relieve that stubborn cough.
How to use: To help stop coughing and relieve a dry cough, cut up fresh ginger and add to mug of boiling water. Allow it to infuse for a few minutes. It’s recommended to drink this three times a day for a good effect.
Another herb that helps you to stop coughing is oregano. Used widely in the East, it helps with a variety of problems including aches and pains and digestive issues. Oregano is mostly used for bronchial coughs and acts as another expectorant releasing that unwanted phlegm.
How to use: Creating a tea by infusing fresh oregano leaves in boiling water is one way to use this herb. Oregano oil is also a great way to use this natural plant, if you can get your hands on it. A few drops under the tongue can relieve that hacking cough.
Featured photo credit: Breville USA at Flickr via flickr.com