Are you plagued with an itchy throat? Is a coughing fit always keeping you awake at night? It’s never easy when you have a cough. Although it can be annoying, coughing is your body’s way of keeping your airways clear. Mucus or an irritant, such as dust or smoke, stimulates nerves in your throat and airways to send an urge to cough to your brain. The brain directs the muscles in the chest and abdomen to give your lungs a strong push of air in order to expel the irritant.
Coughing is the body’s way of protecting itself. An occasional cough is actually healthy. However, a cough that is frequent and persists for several weeks may indicate the presence of a condition that requires medical attention.
Types of cough
There are two main types of cough: dry and wet or productive cough
A wet or productive cough is a cough where you are coughing up mucus or phlegm. This is actually good as your body needs to get rid of the excess mucus and the bacteria or virus it has trapped there. Thinning mucus trapped in your airways makes it easier for the body to get rid of it. Therefore, look for remedies that have expectorant capabilities if you have a productive cough.
A dry or hacking cough does not cough up any mucus. It may be the result of an irritated airway, such as the throat, which is caused by an allergen, dry air, dust or a random tickle at the back of your throat. When dealing with dry cough, look for remedies that have demulcents. These ingredients soothe irritated mucus membranes and helps in removing the irritants that’s triggering the cough.
Homemade Cough Remedies
Instead of grabbing for an over-the-counter cough syrup, try one of these homemade cough remedies. Not only are they natural and good for you, they taste a whole lot better too.
Honey is an excellent demulcent, effectively coating irritated mucus membranes thanks to its stickiness and high viscosity. Honey’s anti-bacterial property is also helpful particularly for coughs that are caused by a bacterial infection.
Take 1 tablespoon of raw honey two to three times a day to control coughing. Take 1 tablespoon honey before going to bed if your cough is disrupting your sleep. Adjust the dosage accordingly for children from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. However, do not give honey to children aged 2 years and below because of the risk of botulism.
- Salt water gargle
A popular remedy for sore throat, gargling with salt water eases the discomfort of a cough through osmosis. Raising the concentration of salt outside the cells of the mucus membranes causes water to flow out from the cells to the surrounding area. When this happens, inflammation goes down. As a consequence, discomfort also goes down.
Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Use this to gargle with for 15 seconds then spit. Repeat the process for the remaining water. Rinse with plain water.
- Honey and pepper
If you’ve been around black pepper while it’s being ground, you know that it can make you cough or sneeze. Black pepper’s propensity to make us cough or sneeze makes an excellent decongestant, particularly for coughs with phlegm or chest congestion. Honey adds an anti-bacterial component and makes black pepper less irritating.
Put 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon honey in a mug and cover with boiling water. Stir to disperse the pepper flakes and let it steep for 10 minutes. Stir once more before drinking. Do this one to two times a day to help in expelling mucus.
- Ginger and peppermint
Ginger and peppermint both helps soothe the throat and stop the tickle at the back of your throat that triggers the cough. Ginger also works as an expectorant, helping to expel mucus lodged in your airways.
Boil 3 tablespoons chopped ginger and 1 tablespoon dried peppermint in 4 cups of water. Once boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer until water is reduced to half. Strain the liquid and add 1 cup honey. Stir until honey is dissolved. Transfer in a bottle and keep refrigerated for 3 weeks. For the dosage, take 1 tablespoon every few hours or as needed to ease your cough.
Steaming is one of the easiest and quickest relief to a cough. Not only does it have the capability to instantly loosen phlegm from your airways, you can even add numerous essential oils to enhance its health benefits.
Fill half-way a medium-sized heatproof bowl with boiling water. Let it cool for 30-60 seconds, then add 3 drops of tea tree oil and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil. Give it a quick stir to release the vapors. Put a towel over your head fashioned like a tent and lean over the bowl. Fashion the towel like a tent to trap the vapor. Breathe in deeply. Do this for 5-10 minutes two to three times a day.