A cough is a sudden expulsion of air from the lungs, which helps to clear the throat and breathing passage of fluids, foreign particles, mucus, and microbes. It can be voluntary; however, it is often a reflex action. Most coughs are acute (often lasting less than three weeks).
Also, a cough can be sub-acute (lasting three to eight weeks) or chronic (lasting more than eight weeks). More often than not, a cough will go away on its own after a few days but if it lasts for more than three weeks it’s best to seek medical attention.
A cough can be caused by a number of things, from the very simple to serious diseases. Some of the more common causes include:
- Common cold
- Hay fever
- Mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose (post nasal drip)
- Some medications
For people who do not want or like having chemicals in their bodies, there are several natural remedies available. Here are my favorite seven.
The slimy texture of honey can help soothe sore throats. It can also relieve coughs more effectively than over-the-counter medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant.
Honey can be eaten on its own by the spoonful or mixed with some lemon juice and warm water in equal parts. The honey soothes while the lemon juice can help with congestion.
Pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain in its stem and fruit. Bromelain can help suppress coughs and loosen the mucus in your throat. Eating a slice of pineapple or drinking fresh pineapple juice two to three times a day would be effective.
The menthol in peppermint soothes the throat and helps break down mucus. You can benefit by drinking peppermint tea or by inhaling peppermint vapors from a steam bath. To make a steam bath, add 3 or 4 drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water. Drape a towel over your head, and take deep breaths directly above the water.
4. Salt and Water Gargle
A salt and water gargle is a simple yet effective way to soothe a scratchy throat. Salt water gargle instantly relieves throat pain whether it’s due to strep throat, tonsillitis or common cold and allergies. Mix half a tablespoon of salt with a cup of warm water and gargle. The anti-inflammatory effect of a salt gargle often lasts several hours, but the longer you have the solution in contact with the throat tissues, the better it is so you should repeat the procedure several times a day.
Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory properties of ginger help relieve a sore throat and airway inflammation whether it’s from infections or allergies. Mix fresh ginger juice with an equal amount of honey to make a cough syrup or drink some ginger tea.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera contains a natural gel with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can relieve dry cough caused by allergies and throat infections. It also helps get rid of the germs responsible for the cough. The gel can be eaten alone or sweetened with honey.
Grapes have antioxidant phytochemicals and act as a mucolytic expectorant. It lightens the phlegm making it easier to cough up. You can eat the grapes or extract the juice from red grapes and sweeten with some honey. It should be made fresh every time to take maximum advantage of its benefits.