A cough is actually a symptom of a certain underlying condition. It can accompany a common cold, or be caused by lung disease, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, etc.
It helps your body get rid of mucus and foreign material from your upper airway passages and lungs. It is among your body’s protective mechanisms created to help keep you breathing easy. You may easily detect the root cause of your cough. However, sometimes, it may be a mystery.
You should pay attention to the sound of your cough and the other symptoms in order to detect the cause.
Here Are 7 Common Causes of Coughs, and What You Can Do about Them:
– Postnasal Drip
Allergies or a cold could result in postnasal drip, thus causing either a dry or wet cough.
In addition, a cough caused by postnasal drip can be worse at night. Also, you may have a scratchy or tickle feeling at the back of your throat. In case it is caused by allergies, you may also experience sneezing and itchy eyes.
In case you experience postnasal drip accompanied by pressure in your face, congestion, cold symptoms that last longer than ten days, and thick yellow or green mucus, you may suffer from a sinus infection. So, you may benefit from irrigating your sinuses.
A study conducted at the University of Michigan Health System showed that saline irrigation could lower nasal congestion better than saline sprays.
Saline irrigation was found to work by reducing swelling in the nasal passages; thinning mucus; and eliminating allergens, bacteria, inflammatory substances and debris from the nose; thus lowering swelling that makes it difficult to breathe.
You can make homemade saline solution free of preservatives by adding 1 tsp. of sea or Himalayan salt to 1 pint of distilled water. You should use a saline solution that doesn’t possess benzalkonium, i.e., a preservative that could interfere with your nasal function and may burn and sting.
This health problem starts out as a dry cough. However, it can progress into a wet cough with red, yellow, or green mucus. Moreover, it is characterized by a cough, difficulty breathing, chills, fever, or pain when breathing in deeply or coughing. In addition, if you cough up excess phlegm and mucus, you should spit it out instead of swallowing it, because swallowing excess mucus could irritate your stomach.
If you suffer from pneumonia, you may recover safely at home by getting enough rest and consuming plenty of fluids. But, in severe cases, young children or the elderly may require hospitalization to receive oxygen therapy, fluids, and breathing treatments.
– Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
In case you experience a chronic cough and hack up plenty of mucus (particularly in the morning), your cough could be caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Your cough may be worst in the morning as well as ease in severity throughout the day. Other symptoms you can experience include chest tightness, fatigue, wheezing, and shortness of breath (especially with physical activity).
Additionally, smoking is a main culprit of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis occurs when the linings of your lungs become swollen, thus constraining your breathing. In emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs start losing their elasticity.
Did you know that a dry cough accompanied by a wheezing or rattling sound can be an indicator of asthma? If you suffer from asthma, then you experience inflamed airways, resulting in difficulty in breathing; coughing; and wheezing. A cough caused by asthma aggravates while exercising or at night. It could be accompanied by fatigue, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
In case you suffer from asthma, you should try The Buteyko Method that can help you bring your breathing volume back toward normal.
This means that you can experience better oxygenation of your organs and tissues. In case you suffer from asthma, you should also optimize your vitamin D levels and improve your gut health.
– Drug-Related Cough
Medications called ACE inhibitors that are used to treat high blood pressure could lead to a dry cough in 20% of patients. In case you experience a cough several weeks after taking this drug, then it may be culprit of your cough.
Although you should not stop taking your blood pressure drugs without your physician’s guidance, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to regulate your blood pressure.
Furthermore, one of the main culprits of high blood pressure is associated with your body creating too much leptin and insulin in response to eating too much sugar and processed foods.
So, the first thing you should do if you suffer from high blood pressure is avoid processed foods because they are packed with trans fat, fructose/sugar grains, processed salt, and more. Another strategy that enhances your heart health and blood pressure naturally is comprehensive fitness program.
– Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Once food passes through your esophagus into your stomach, then a muscular valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter closes. This prevents acid or food from moving back up. Acid reflux, also known as GERD, is a health problem that occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter relaxes inadequately and allows acid from your stomach to flow backward into your esophagus.
A dry, spasmodic cough could be triggered by GERD. GERD is actually the second most common culprit of chronic cough in the world.
Specifically, GERD can have a negative effect on your lung health and can lead to chronic or subacute cough. A cough caused by GERD may aggravate when you are eating or lying down. It may also be related to other symptoms of GERD, like heartburn. However, in most cases, people only experience chronic cough.
Moreover, GERD is a symptom associated with Helicobacter pylori infection and/or hiatal hernia. That’s not all, it can also be associated with having too little acid in the stomach. That’s why medications, such as proton pump inhibitors only perpetuate the problem and aggravate the symptoms of GERD. So, you can fight this health problem by restoring your natural gastric function and balance.
Consuming too much sugars and processed foods can exacerbate GERD, because it can interfere with the bacterial balance in your intestines and stomach.
On the other hand, you should consume plenty of vegetables and other organic, unprocessed foods. You should also exclude food triggers from your diet, such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. Plus, you should get enough good bacteria from your daily diet in order to help balance your gut flora, thus fighting H. pylori bacteria completely naturally. You can get enough good bacteria or probiotics by consuming fermented foods. Or you can take a high-quality probiotic supplement regularly.
Or in case you have too little stomach acid, you can take a betaine hydrochloric supplement. It can be found in any health food store without prescription. Simply take as many as you need to get the slightest burning sensation and reduce by 1 capsule to help destroy H. pylori, boost your digestion, and alleviate the symptoms.
– Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Whooping cough contributes to a severe cough, which typically ends with a whooping sound as inhaling.
In case you suffer from a whooping cough, seek medical attention immediately, particularly if it occurs in a young child. Luckily, here are some natural treatments that could help alleviate a whopping cough:
- Massage in coconut oil every day in order to keep your skin hydrated;
- Heat a pan of water to boiling, and add several drops of thyme oil. Next, inhale the steam from the pan and cover your head with a towel. But, be careful to prevent burns;
- Wild cherry bark lozenges could help soothe your throat;
- Consume light foods like vegetables, herbal teas, and soups with garlic;
- Exclude mucus-producing foods, like sugar, eggs, flour, and milk from your diet;
- Supplement with 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C every day for a week;
- Homeopathic remedies for this health problem include nosode and Coccus cacti. In addition, Drosera is used to treat coughing fits accompanied by vomiting, gagging, or retching. Cuprum is used to help treat coughing fits accompanied by difficulty breathing, gasping for air, and exhaustion;
- Add some fresh ginger root in water and bring it to a boil for about twenty minutes. Afterwards, soak your feet in the solution for about twenty minutes;
- Massage therapeutic grade essential oils with carrier oil, such as coconut oil into your back or chest;
- Use a warm air humidifier with any of the following essential oils: eucalyptus, peppermint, chamomile, lavender, camphor, tea tree, wintergreen, thyme, marjoram, cyprus, and basil;
- Arrange your pillows, so that you can be more upright while sleeping;
- Avoid exertion and get enough rest;
- Practice acupuncture;
- Keep your home free of smoke and well-ventilated;
- Stay well hydrated.
Antibiotics Are NOT Always the Best Remedy for Coughs
An average American adult thinks an average cough lasts 7-9 days. However, the average cough lasts about 18 days.
Moreover, almost all acute coughs are caused by viral illnesses like flu and colds that antibiotics do not help. In fact, when doctors prescribe antibiotics for unnecessary illnesses, many negative consequences can occur. Namely, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to the natural mutation of common bacteria, thus contributing to the formation of new, resistant strains. Antibiotics can also result in an imbalance in your body’s microbiome.
Believe it or not, about half of all hospitalized patients typically get antibiotics at some point during their stay. However, it has been found that 30-50% of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are incorrect or unnecessary, resulting in antibiotic resistance.
Natural Remedies for Coughs
Most common colds that usually result in coughs, last about 8-9 days. However, nearly 25% last 15 days, and up to 10% last 20 days. It is important to understand that the state of your immune system as well as your general lifestyle habits play a role in how quickly the cold will be resolved.
In fact, over-the-counter cold and cough remedies don’t lead to a speedier recovery. On the other hand, raw, organic honey is a more effective option compared to over-the-counter cold and cough remedies. Honey is a demulcent and helps alleviate throat and mouth irritation by forming a protective film.
It also acts as a dextromethorphan and helps relieve cough and fight related sleeping problems because of upper respiratory tract infections in children.
Caution: You should NOT give honey to your child if it is under the age of 1.
Homemade Honey-Lemon Cough Syrup Recipe
Honey helps destroy harmful bacteria and soothe your throat, whereas lemon helps alkalinize your body.
You should put a pint of raw, organic honey in a pan on the stove on low heat. Avoid bringing the honey to a boil because it can destroy its healing properties.
Then, boil a whole lemon in some water in another pan for a couple of minutes to soften it and destroy any harmful bacteria that might be on the lemon skin.
Allow it to cool enough to handle and cut it in slices.
Next, you should add it to the honey on the stove and cook it on warm heat for 60 minutes.
Strain the lemon from the honey. Make sure all lemon seeds are removed.
Allow it to cool and store in a jar with a lid in the refrigerator.
You can keep this all-natural cough remedy for up to two months in the refrigerator.
Take one tsp. of this natural remedy for a 50 lb. child, and half a tsp. for a 25 lb. child, four times on a daily basis. Adults can take 1 tsp. of this remedy on a daily basis.
- Ferrer, Gustavo; Lennihan, Burke. ”Cough Cures: The Complete Guide to the Best Natural Remedies and Over-the-Counter Drugs for Acute and Chronic Coughs”;
- Groppel, Jason. ”The Health Benefits of Honey”;