How can I cure my cough?

How can I cure my cough?

Natural Remedies for Treating a Persistent Cough

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If you’re tired of that nagging cough that just won’t seem to go away, you’re not alone. Coughs can be caused by a variety of underlying factors, such as allergies, infections, and acid reflux. While over-the-counter and prescription medications are available, there are also natural remedies that may provide relief. In this article, we’ll explore some of these remedies and provide insights into their effectiveness.

It’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbs and supplements. Therefore, it’s crucial to research sources and brands before using natural remedies. Some herbs and supplements may also interact with medications, leading to unwanted side effects. Always consult with a doctor before taking any supplements.

When Should You See a Doctor?

While natural remedies can be effective for many people, there are situations where medical attention is necessary. If your cough persists for a long time, is recurrent, or accompanied by symptoms such as shortness of breath, blood or yellowish-green mucus, fever, headache, or a wheezing or whooping sound, it’s important to consult a doctor.

12 Natural Cough Remedies

There are several natural remedies that people have found to be helpful in alleviating a persistent cough. It’s important to note that the evidence for some of these remedies is limited, and their effectiveness may vary from person to person. Let’s take a closer look at some of these remedies:

1. Honey

Research suggests that honey may help relieve a cough associated with upper respiratory infections. In a recent review of studies, honey was found to be superior to usual care in suppressing the cough and preventing the need for antibiotics. Another study compared honey to a common cough suppressant called dextromethorphan and found that both were effective in suppressing coughs.

To use honey as a remedy, simply swallow a spoonful or add it to a hot drink like herbal tea.

2. Ginger

Ginger, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, may help ease a dry or asthmatic cough. While research on ginger’s effect on coughs is limited, it has been used in traditional Asian medicines for centuries. Some studies suggest that ginger, along with other remedies like honey, plays a role in traditional cough treatments. Add ginger to your dishes or drink it in tea, but be cautious, as ginger tea can cause stomach upset or heartburn in some cases.

3. Hot Fluids

While research on this remedy is limited, drinking warm fluids at room temperature or hotter may help alleviate a cough, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, chills, and fatigue. Hot beverages like clear broths, herbal teas, decaffeinated black tea, warm water, and warm fruit juices may provide comfort and relief from cold and flu symptoms.

4. Steam

Steam can help relieve a wet cough that produces mucus or phlegm. Take a hot shower or bath to allow the bathroom to fill with steam, or create a steam bowl by leaning over a bowl of hot water with herbs or essential oils like eucalyptus or rosemary. Breathe in the steam for 10-15 minutes, up to twice a day. While some believe in the benefits of steam for coughs, not all evidence agrees on its effectiveness.

5. Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root has been traditionally used to treat coughs and sore throats. Its high mucilage content helps soothe irritation caused by coughing. Some studies have shown that an herbal cough syrup containing marshmallow root, thyme, and ivy effectively relieved coughs resulting from common colds and respiratory tract infections. Marshmallow root is available as a dried herb or bagged tea. Steep it in hot water and drink immediately or allow it to cool first. Be cautious of potential stomach upset, and drink extra fluids to counteract it.

6. Saltwater Gargle

Saltwater gargles have long been used to alleviate sore throat and cold symptoms. While it may not reduce viral load, gargling with a saltwater solution can help loosen mucus and relieve pain. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, allow it to cool slightly, gargle with the solution, and then spit it out. Repeat this several times a day until the cough improves. However, individuals with high blood pressure should avoid using saltwater gargles.

7. Bromelain

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, has anti-inflammatory properties and may help break down mucus. Some people drink pineapple juice to reduce mucus and suppress coughing, but there may not be enough bromelain in the juice to provide significant relief. Bromelain supplements are available, but it’s best to consult with a doctor before trying any new supplements. Note that bromelain can cause side effects and may interact with certain medications.

8. Thyme

Thyme has both culinary and medicinal uses and has been commonly used to alleviate coughs, sore throats, bronchitis, and digestive issues. Some evidence suggests that thyme preparations can help alleviate cough symptoms, but further studies are needed to demonstrate overall effectiveness. A recent study showed that a combination of thyme and ivy drops improved bronchitis symptoms, cough, and overall quality of life with minimal side effects. Look for a cough syrup that contains thyme to treat your cough effectively.

9. Dietary Changes for Acid Reflux

Acid reflux can cause a persistent cough. To manage this condition and reduce coughing, it’s important to avoid foods that trigger acid reflux. Common triggers include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, citrus foods, fried and fatty foods, garlic, onions, mint, spices, and tomatoes. By eliminating these triggers from your diet, you can potentially reduce your reflux-related cough.

10. Slippery Elm

Slippery elm bark has been traditionally used by Native Americans to treat coughs and digestive issues. Like marshmallow root, slippery elm contains a high level of mucilage, which helps soothe a sore throat and cough. You can make slippery elm tea by adding 1 teaspoon of dried herb to a cup of hot water, steeping it for at least 10 minutes, and then drinking it. Note that slippery elm may interfere with medication absorption, so consult with a doctor before using it. Slippery elm is available in powder and capsule form.

11. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is a supplement derived from the amino acid L-cysteine. It has been found to reduce mucus in the airways by breaking it down, particularly in chronic bronchitis cases. A meta-analysis of multiple studies concluded that NAC can significantly reduce symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis. The recommended daily dose is 600mg for people without airway obstruction and up to 1,200mg for those with obstruction. However, NAC can have severe side effects, so consult with a doctor before trying it.

12. Probiotics

While probiotics do not directly relieve coughs, they can help boost the immune system by balancing gut bacteria. A healthy immune system can fight off infections that may be causing a cough. Some studies have shown that probiotics, specifically the bacteria strain Lactobacillus, can reduce the frequency of respiratory tract infections in children. Probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus are available, as well as probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, miso soup, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

Tips to Help Prevent a Cold

Preventing a cold and respiratory tract infections can reduce the risk of developing a cough. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Avoid contact with sick individuals and maintain a safe distance from them.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water to remove bacteria and viruses.
  • Use disinfectant to clean frequently touched surfaces and wash bedding, towels, and soft toys on a hot wash when someone in your household is ill.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking enough water and other fluids.
  • Reduce stress through regular exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Get enough sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours each night.
  • Consider taking immune-boosting supplements like zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics during cold and flu season (consult with a doctor first).

It’s also essential to identify and avoid triggers for allergies, such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Allergy shots or medications can be prescribed by a doctor to help manage allergy symptoms.

How to Prevent Coughing

When dealing with a cold or respiratory tract infection, there are additional steps you can take to reduce coughing:

  • Drink warm fluids like broth or teas.
  • Avoid dairy products and alcohol.
  • Breathe in moist air from shower steam or use a humidifier.
  • Over-the-counter medications like dextromethorphan or cough drops may help suppress a cough.

When to See a Doctor

If your cough is accompanied by foul-smelling green or yellow phlegm, chills, dehydration, fever over 102°F, fever lasting more than 3 days, weakness, coughing up blood, or difficulty breathing, it’s important to see a doctor. In case of severe symptoms, such as coughing up blood or breathing difficulties, seek immediate medical attention or call for emergency help.

In summary, natural remedies can provide relief for a persistent cough, but their effectiveness may vary. Additionally, natural remedies and supplements may not be suitable for everyone and can have side effects. Always consult with a doctor before trying any new supplements or home remedies.