A cough (or tussis) is either a voluntary or an involuntary action to rapidly expulse air from the lungs. It clears the throat or the breathing passage of irritants, mucus, fluids, microbes or unwanted foreign particles. Thus, if you see anyone coughing persistently – it could be an indication of a disease.
Coughing is usually due to infectious diseases like cold, flu or laryngitis. Some causes of cough could be non-infectious as well. In cases of Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI) usually, the air in the windpipe or the lungs catch an infection. Coughs, especially in children, are due to pos-nasal drip (GERD) or asthma. The rare reason for chronic cough in adults is fungal infections, tuberculosis (TB) or lung cancer.
You can easily adapt simple methods to prevent, reduce symptoms or stop coughing without any medicine or cough syrup. However, you should always check with your doctor before you start treating yourself.
As per the Health Service (NHS), the United Kingdom home remedy of drinking lemon and honey is better than any over-the-counter products sold in chemists or pharmacies. Remember, honey and lemon make the throat feel better however do not decrease the cough time duration.
Honey – is a demulcent and helps soothe the irritated throat. It has been used for ages as a home remedy to stop coughs.
- Squeeze 1/2 a lemon juice to a cup of hot water or even green/herbal tea.
- Add 2 teaspoons of honey to the hot water and lemon.
- Always, heat the water before you squeeze the lemon and add honey.
As per an old folk tradition, you could soothe coughing and cure sore throat by having 3 tablespoons each of lemon juice, honey and white or red vinegar thrice for 3-4 days.
Gargle with salt water is an age-old-home-remedy to stop cough or sore throat. Whenever you feel you have a rough throat or feel that it is dry gargling with warm water is best. It will help your throat to soothe, helps drain phlegm and mucus, moisturizes your sinus and prevents triggers to cause coughing.
- Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of warm water.
- The temperature of the water should be warm – not hot!
- In case you do not like saltwater – you could use distilled water to gargle.
- Gargle and spit out.
- Remember, to gargle every 2-3 hours for instant cough relief.
Throat Lozenge or Cough Drops is a tablet to slowly dissolve in the mouth. It helps soothe the throat tissues, lubricate it and helps in stopping the cough temporarily due to cold or influenza. Moreover, throat lozenge helps in calming the irritation in the throat felt during swallowing, drinking fluids or sometimes even breathing.
A throat lozenge or cough drop is made of eucalyptus oil and benzocaine. Cough drops without menthol usually contain oral demulcents like zinc gluconate glycerine or pectin. Brands like Halls contain spearmint/peppermint oil and menthol mainly. For those of you who prefer Honey Cough Drops are also available.
- Eat Cough Drops or Throat Lorenge every 3-4 hours for a maximum duration of 5 days.
- As per a study 13 mg zinc lozenge sucked in every 2 hours makes you get rid of the sore throat 3-4 days earlier than others who did not.
Dried garlic is also effective for its potent antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Try taking 600mg of garlic in capsule form, 4 times a day.
When you were kids our grandmother used to apply a warm towel compress on the neck and chest whenever you had congestion in the lungs or blocked nose. It also clears nasal passages as it increases stimulation to drain the mucus irritating your throat. It also stops cough and lets you sleep peacefully.
- Soak a small size towel in lukewarm water for a few minutes until the towel is warm. Make sure the towel and water both are clean and hygienic. Wring the water out of the towel and then apply it to your neck or chest.
- Do this for 5 minutes. Every time the towel cools down rewet it and do this cycle 3-4 times. so that you repeat the steps for approximately 20 minutes (not more).
- In case you have fever or swelling do not apply hot compression.
- Some of you may prefer a hot gel pack or even a hot water bottle for heat compression. In such cases use something like a towel or a thick cloth napkin in between the hot gel or bottle and your skin.
- Those of you who have diabetes or poor circulation should consult your doctor for precautions before warm compression to stop coughing.
Taking a warm shower is one of the best home remedies to stop a cough. Take a warm water bath or shower for 51-0 minutes. It is one the simplest and no hassle home remedy where all you have to do is stand under the shower. Simple -isn’t it!
- Before taking a bath or shower – make sure the water is just warm enough for a comfortable bath – applicable especially if you also have a fever.
- Skin cleanliness and hygiene are important to avoid any other bacterial or viral infections.
- Remember, warm baths help clear nasal passages or congestion and sore throats.
- Also, your bronchial passages are loosened up by the humidity and moisture due to the warm water making your cough easier.
Ginger has medicinal properties and has been used to cure and stop dry cough since ages by Ayurveda. Since ginger has anti-inflammatory properties consuming ginger in tea form is one of the best ways to stop a dry cough.
- Chop 20-40 grams of fresh ginger and add it to a cup of water.
- Brew it for a few minutes in hot water.
- Add 2 teaspoons of honey and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
- Mix it all well and drink it like hot tea.
- You can also add 4-5 leaves of Indian basil leaves to this tea for best results.
Ginger tea will surely soothe your throat and cure a dry cough if you start drinking it from day 1.
All of us continuously breathe all the time. Air is the easiest way for germs to be inhaled. Therefore, be careful and avoid coughing or sneezing without covering your mouth and nose with a tissue. Rather than covering your mouth and nose with your palms while coughing or sneezing – in case you do not have tissue – use your bent elbow to cough or sneeze. It will prevent germs and bacteria from spreading in the atmosphere. Because you can easily inhale these germs floating in the air through coughing or sneezing. Thus, take appropriate precautions to stop coughing and sneezing.
Washing hands regularly is a must to prevent and stop cough.
Since cold, cough or flu are contagious – the easiest and fastest manner of catching the infection is by interacting with sick people, or go out in public spaces and touching face without washing hands. If you come into direct contact the virus or bacteria can spread fast thus, it’s imperative to wash hands with soap and warm water. Do this especially before eating, after going to the toilet and before and after you touch your face.
- Washing hands prevents the germs from spreading when you have a cough.
- To disinfect your hands keep a sanitizer handy when you step out in public or are at work.
- Keep a check on your child from putting their fingers in the eyes, mouth, nose because it is in this manner that germs spread.
Allergens when inhaled or eaten cause an allergic reaction by the immune system. Also, allergens have a tendency to irritate the sinuses, trigger postnasal drip, make your throat sore. Moreover, it leads to difficulty in breathing through the respiratory passage.
Pollen grains of flowers, dust, mould and pet dander are some of the most common allergens. The free radicals enter your system – causing your immune system to release antibodies to fight them by releasing histamine kind of chemicals causing symptoms of allergy and inflammation.
Other common allergens are cigarette smoke, hazardous fumes, insect bites, eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, per allergies, soy, shrimp, mushrooms, eggs, certain salts in medicines, dyes, chemicals etc. Becoming aware of the allergens and avoiding them in daily life and boosting your immune system is the best way to stop cough and sneezing.
In case none of the above work then immediately go to a doctor for a consultation. You could go to an ENT Doctor (ear, nose and throat specialist). Your doctor will inspect your throat to check symptoms of an infection and will guide you with the proper line of treatment to stop cough, cold and flu.
Enjoy a healthy and happy life ahead!