When our body is full of harmful microbes, irritants or dust, coughing is a common reaction of the respiratory system to try and expel them. This natural reflex can be extremely irritating, and even painful, but it is essential to help protect your lungs The worse part, is that coughing sometimes can even keep us up at night, which can impact our sleep quality until the duration of the cough.
Often times, we will find ourselves running to the nearest pharmacy to get over the counter cough syrup to help relieve and stop the cough, but they never really seem to work. At least not for me anyway. This is because they don’t really get down to the root of the problem; the real reason we are coughing in the first place. Getting to the root of the symptom is key and we can use food, essential oils for coughs and supplements that actually boost our immune system, fights infections and thins out mucus in our system.
Why Do We Cough?
When we cough, it is our body’s way of clearing our airways of irritants such as air particles, pollen, mold, mucus or even smoke. It is actually a defense mechanism that our bodies use to protect our lungs from inflammation and infection.
There are different kinds of coughs ranging from acute coughing, to chronic coughing. When we have an acute cough, it usually only lasts for 3 weeks max and it is caused by respiratory infections like sinusitis, pneumonia or the common cold. A subacute cough is a cough that lingers around even after the initial infection is gone and can stay around for another 8 weeks. This is our body’s way of dealing with the left-over mucus left in our system from the initial infection.
Chronic coughs are usually caused by an underlying medical condition and can, unfortunately, last more than 8 weeks. A few conditions such as postnasal drip, asthma, bronchitis and allergies can lead to a chronic cough. In rare conditions, a chronic cough can be caused by lung cancer, lung infection, lung disease, heart failures, or even psychological disorders.
How Do Coughs Work?
Coughing occurs in only an instant, so many things happen in your body and respiratory system in that instant of a cough. First, we gasp in a lot of air and our glottis (the opening between our vocal cords) quickly shuts and covers our windpipe. Our chest cage muscles, abdomen and diaphragm begin to contract as the move the air from our lungs to our nose. This is where we can feel a build up of pressure as the air now, has no where to go. The air then rushes out as our glottis opens again, causing that annoying coughing sound.
The cough can be involuntary, or we can prompt our bodies to cough when we get mucus or particles in our airways. It’s so amazing how the human body works!
Wet Cough Vs Dry Cough
Due to the fact that we cough for various of reasons, it can be quite noticeable that our coughs don’t always feel or even sound the same. We can experience wet coughs that comes with fluid secretions and mucus or have a dry hacking cough. The cough still means the same thing, there is an obstruction in our airway. The only difference is what that obstruction is.
A wet cough happens when we have a build up of mucus and fluid in our lungs or in our windpipe. We cough to expel those fluids from our body. Mucus and phlegm production is our body’s response and a way of letting us know we have inflammation probably due to an infection. The constant build up of mucus, even though we feel we have literally just coughed up a lung, can be undeniably uncomfortable and frustrating, but is much needed in the repairs our body is undergoing from the infection.
A dry cough happens when we cough, but no fluids or mucus comes out. It can be caused by an itchy feeling in the back of our throats. This is usually caused by a respiratory infection like the flu or a cold, irritants, asthma or exposure to smoke. With dry coughs, they seem to get worse in the middle of the nigh or early in the morning when we are first waking up. They tend to get better throughout the day.
7 Home Remedies for Cough
Immune Boosting Food
There are foods that we can consume to help thin mucus, reduce inflammation (the root of disease) soothe sore muscles and most importantly, boost our immune system.
By drinking water throughout the day, we can help thin the built-up mucus in our airways and causing us to cough. Try drinking 8- 16 ounces every 2 hours. Be prepared to go to the bathroom frequently.
To give our bodies an extra boost in immunity, we can drink ginger tea when we have a cough. It can also fight the infection that is causing the coughing symptom. Ginger tea comes from the ginger root that has powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties making this tea a go to when dealing with respiratory tract infections.
Drinking real bone broth has many benefits to our bodies as a whole. Not only can it help boost our immune system, but it can help us detox, soothe our muscles, and thin mucus in our airways. Why do we want to detox? When we are exposed to toxins, chemicals, artificial ingredients and pesticides, it can cause and inflammatory reaction in our bodies. If we are coughing due to these inflammatory reactions, then we need to get rid of the toxins dwelling in our bodies.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin that is known to kill microorganisms responsible for respiratory infections leading to cough. Raw garlic has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties that also help fight infections festering in our bodies. Try looking up some recipes where you can incorporate raw garlic into your diet and dive in!
Food to Avoid
While trying to eat foods that can reduce inflammation, it is also important to stay away from food that can cause inflammation. Otherwise, we would be defeating the purpose. Avoid consuming sweetened drinks, fruit juice, chocolate, sugary food, dairy products, and processed food when you have a cough. These food can actually accelerate the amount of mucus in your system, making more mucus, and making the mucus thicker. Try eating whole fruits and vegetables instead which can be higher in vitamin C to help boost your immunity.
Natural honey has antimicrobial effects and can be very beneficial for treating coughs and colds. It can work by increasing cytokine release, relieving irritation (especially in the throat) and reducing inflammation. It also provides immune-boosting antioxidants. Raw honey or manuka honey work best to relieve conditions that cause cough, such as bacterial and viral infections, as well as allergies. It can also help you get to sleep. Take 1-2 tablespoons of raw or manuka honey a day until symptoms go away. You can also add honey to teas along with lemon or chamomile.
Vitamin C can support our immune system and boost our white blood cells which makes it great to be used as a home remedy for coughs. Vitamin C serves as an important antioxidant for help get rid of those suffering from oxidative stress. It may alleviate or prevent infections caused by bacteria and viruses and can shorten the duration of colds. As soon as symptoms develop, take 1,000 milligrams 3-4 times a day daily.
When fighting symptoms of the common cold, including cough, over the counter Zinc is commonly used as a remedy. It can reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms when taken 24 hours of said symptoms. The best way to take advantage of Zinc is to use Zinc lozenges throughout the day. These lozenges should contain at least 1 milligrams of elemental zinc and can be used every 2 hours when symptoms of cough and cold appear.
Many essential oils contain antibacterial and antiviral compounds which makes them great home remedies to fight coughs and infections. There are even some oils that can help loosen mucus, allow oxygen to reach our lungs and relax the muscles of our respiratory tract. A few of the best essential oils for cough are eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon.
Read more on How to Use Essential Oils for Cough
Inhaling humidifier cool or warm air has been shown to help with cough because it helps to enhance the drainage of congested airways. This can be very useful for children experiencing coughing spells during the night and need much needed relief for sleep.
Massage and Percussion
Getting a massage may be one thing that you would least expect for a natural remedy for cough. But in fact, massage therapy has a significant positive effect on cough, especially in children who suffer from asthma. Massage can help open your airways and get air to and from your lungs. Percussion massage involves clapping the chest wall or the back over the part of the lung that needs to be drained of mucus.
To do this, simply cup your hand so that it curves to the chest wall and clap with a forceful, steady beat. You can tell if your hand is cupped properly by the sound it makes over the chest. It should be a hollow sound and shouldn’t create any pain or discomfort. The vibration of the clap will help loosen and shake the mucus to allow our bodies to get rid of it more quickly.
If you are suffering with a cough lasting 8 weeks or more, you may want to see your doctor or physician about any underlying conditions. These home remedies are effective in fighting infections that commonly cause a cough and reducing the duration and intensity of the cough. They will not treat a cough that is caused by a medical condition such as heart disease, lung cancer or lung disease.
Summing It Up
Coughing is a natural reflex from our bodies that is meant to clear our airways of any irritants, allergens, smoke or dust. This defensive mechanism is there to keep our airways clear of any foreign substances. Coughs can be caused by a number of issues and can last for different time frames depending on the ailment it is associated with. Anything lasting 8 weeks or longer needs professional attention. Try any of these natural ways to get rid of cough and let me know which worked best for you!
When our body is full of harmful microbes, irritants or dust, coughing is a common reaction of the respiratory system to try and expel them. This natural reflex can be...
One way we can get rid of coughs naturally is to use essential oils. Essential oils can be used for many things that are beneficial for our mental, physical and spiritual...
Eucalyptus essential oil is used worldwide mainly for its antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It can be used to help with out mental by boosting mental clarity, but it mostly...
Peppermint is a hybrid plant of water mint and spearmint. Menthol is the most active ingredient in peppermint, giving the leaves their energizing and invigorating effects. It is values for...
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Self Verve is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. Be sure to contact your physician before trying any of the items stated in the above article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Self Verve does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.