Coughing is the body’s normal response to irritation or inflammation in the throat. It can develop as an allergic reaction to dust, pollen, or dander. Alternatively, it could be a symptom of an infection (like a cold or flu) of one or more parts of the respiratory system. While coughing clears the windpipe and lungs, it can worsen inflammation in the throat. So, one should consider the following tips for relieving cough:
1. Increase fluid intake
Chicken soup, broths, hydrating fluids, and even plain water can help soothe an irritated throat. Fluids can keep the throat and respiratory tract moist, which relieves coughing. Warm fluids are especially helpful in loosening mucus. This can alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by coughing. Also, nutrient-rich broths and soups can help the body recover quickly from the allergy or infection responsible for the cough.
2. Drink warm tea
In addition to soups and broths, one can stock up on some soothing teas to relieve cough. A cup of warm tea works wonders for an itchy throat and can provide many healing benefits. For instance, ginger and lemon honey teas are known to have antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping the body deal with infection and allergens. In addition, chamomile or lavender teas have anti-inflammatory properties that boost the immune system.
3. Gargle with salt water
Another simple and easy remedy for cough is gargling with salt water. Salt solution can help get rid of bacteria and other pathogens while soothing the throat. To make the salt solution, one can mix half a teaspoon of table salt with 8 ounces of warm water. One can gargle with this solution twice a day. Gargling before going to bed can help one minimize the risk of sleep disruptions due to coughing.
4. Try honey
Honey is believed to help manage persistent cough. One can opt for a teaspoon of plain honey by itself, or it can be added to a cup of warm tea. The ingredient can help soothe the upper airways. Its thick consistency helps calm the ticklish or itchy feeling in the throat. Moreover, honey is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation in the lungs. However, one should refrain from feeding honey to children under the age of 1.
5. Use cough drops
Cough drops (or lozenges) are known for soothing an irritated and dry throat by helping increase the production of saliva. This additional saliva provides the necessary moisture to the throat, relieving a dry cough. It can also lower the urge to cough, preventing further inflammation of the throat. Alternatively, one can try any hard candy. But it is best to opt for sugar-free candies, as sugar is known to worsen inflammation. Additionally, cough drops and hard candies can be choking hazards for young children, so one should consider alternative remedies here.
6. Take a warm bath or a hot shower
Soaking in a warm bath or taking a hot shower is not just a great way to de-stress; it also helps relieve nasal congestion that might be causing the cough. This remedy works because of the hot steam emanating from the water. Upon inhalation, the steam moistens the airways and loosens the mucus from the throat and nasal passages, relieving cough to an extent.
7. Use a cool-mist vaporizer
A cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer placed next to the bed can help moisten the airways, reducing the urge to cough and preventing sleep disruptions. When dealing with a wet cough, the vaporizer can help in thinning out the mucus so that it can be easily coughed up and expelled. A humidifier can work wonders even during the day. One can set it up in the office or in the living room. To get the most out of the appliance, one should change the water every day and clean the unit thoroughly on a regular basis. Regular cleanup can prevent the growth of mold and bacteria that are known to trigger or worsen coughing fits.
8. Try a neti pot
A neti pot is a nasal irrigation tool. All one has to do is fill it up with boiled saline water, which has been cooled down to room temperature. Then, one can tilt their head to one side over a sink and begin pouring down the water from the spout of the neti pot through the upper nostril. It is important to keep the head tilted to let the water out through the lower nostril. By doing this, the mucus, allergens, and any particles that have triggered the cough can be flushed out. While using a neti pot can help, it is important to consult a doctor before trying nasal irrigation to understand the side effects.
9. Use additional pillows
In most cases, coughing worsens at night when one goes to bed, as when one lies down, the mucus starts to pool around the throat. In order to expel the mucus, the coughing reflex is activated. To address this issue, one can consider elevating the head using extra pillows while sleeping. Propping up a pillow or two under the head also helps alleviate acid reflux, which may also cause coughing at nighttime.
10. Choose probiotic-rich foods
Probiotics are foods or beverages containing healthy bacteria that help boost the immune system and improve gut health. Both factors can help the body fight infections and allergies that might be causing incessant coughing. A few excellent sources of probiotics that can be added to daily meals include miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt. However, before eating these foods, one should make sure they are at room temperature and not cold or frozen to prevent aggravating the cough.
Upon experiencing a stubborn cough that does not seem to improve, one should consult a doctor and seek appropriate treatment.