5th Jan, 2023
The cold season is here! And with it comes several health issues, the most persistent one being cough. Cough is one of the most common symptoms and health conditions experienced by people. In most cases, coughing is good, as it helps clear the throat of dust, germs, phlegm, and other irritants. Though cough in itself is harmless, it can cause extreme discomfort and pain in the throat, or indicate an underlying health condition, including allergies and infection.
Coughing is your body’s way of responding to an irritant when it causes discomfort in the throat or airways. If a cough occurs occasionally, it is considered normal and healthy. However, if the cough produces discoloured mucus or contains blood, it may require medical attention. Cough can be caused by a number of factors, including:
Allergens (irritants): Smoke, mold, pollen, dust, strong fragrances, animal dander, and certain medications.
Existing Health Conditions: Cold, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, throat disorders, postnasal drip, and certain heart conditions.
Types of Cough:
Coughs can be mainly classified into two types:
· Productive Cough: Also known as wet cough, this type of cough brings up phlegm or mucus.
· Non-productive Cough: Also known as dry cough, this type of cough does not bring up mucus or phlegm.
Coughs can also be classified based on how long they last. This includes:
· Acute Cough: It begins suddenly and lasts between 1 – 3 weeks.
· Subacute Cough: This type of cough occurs due to an infection lasting for about 3 – 7 weeks after the infection has been cured.
· Chronic Cough: This cough lasts longer than 8 weeks, and is also known as persistent coughs.
· Refractory Cough: This refers to a chronic cough that hasn’t responded to any treatment.
Risk factors that lead to coughing:
While coughing is a common symptom and health condition, some people are more prone to coughing than others. The factors that may increase your chances of getting a cough include:
Smoking: Those who smoke cigarettes and substances like marijuana are more likely to get a cough compared to those who don’t.
Chronic Illnesses: People with Chronic Illnesses – especially the ones involving the lungs or nervous system are more prone to cough.
Allergies: In most cases, cough is a symptom or indication of an allergy caused by a particular irritant (also known as an allergen).
Age: Though cough is prevalent in people of all ages, children are more likely to get affected by cough compared to adults.
Treating Cough: Though a cough is harmless, it can cause extreme uneasiness in the form of throat pain and soreness. However, there are several quick relief remedies for coughs in the form of natural home remedies or over-the-counter medications. In order to treat a cough, it is essential to find out the cause of the cough, so that it can be treated accordingly. Let us take a look at a few natural cough remedies for effective treatment.
Honey: Honey is one of the most sought-after natural solutions for cough. According to studies, honey suppresses the cough reflex and soothes the throat. Honey is also effective in reducing mucus production. In order to cure cough, you can either take a spoonful of honey or add it to a hot beverage such as herbal tea.
Ginger: Ginger, along with honey, is a popular cold remedy. As per a study, it has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes cough by thinning the mucus. People also use ginger to treat nausea. However, you must ensure that you do not overuse ginger as it may cause throat irritation and heartburn. Ginger can be infused into hot drinks such as tea during colds.
Hot Liquids: Cough can be eased by drinking plenty of warm fluids. Drinking fluids can help relieve dryness in the throat and keep you hydrated, while warm fluids help thin the mucus for easy drainage. Warm fluids also provide a soothing sensation for an irritated throat.
Steam Inhalation: A wet cough, also known as a productive cough, can be eased by inhaling hot steam. You can fill a bowl with hot water, lean over the bowl, and place a towel over the head to trap the steam, which can then be inhaled. You can also add essential oils such as eucalyptus or rosemary oil to relieve congestion.
Saltwater Gargle:Gargling with salt water helps alleviate sore throat and the other symptoms of a cold. It may also help soothe the discomfort and pain in the throat, caused by continuous coughing. To make a saltwater gargle, you can stir ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water until it dissolves, gargle with it for a few seconds and spit it out.
Probiotics: While probiotics may not directly cure cough, they help boost immunity and balance the bacteria in your intestines. A healthy immune system can fight off infections that cause cough. The most natural way to get probiotics is by consuming fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, tempeh, and more.
Preventing Cough:While there are a plethora of remedies and medicines that can help treat coughs, it is ideal to ensure that you are not affected by it in the first place. Having strong immunity goes a long way in fighting infections that cause common cold, coughs, or flu. Let us take a look at a few instant preventive tips for cough:
Hand hygiene: Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, as you may have come in contact with germs and microbes while touching objects such as door knobs, handles, faucets, and more. If you do not have access to soap and water, ensure that you carry a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid contact with sick people: Maintain a safe distance from people who exhibit symptoms of flu or cold. If you notice symptoms of sickness in yourself, ensure that you avoid going to public places and spreading the infection.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water along with other fluids such as herbal teas and juices to stay hydrated.
Reduce Stress: Stress increases your chances of falling sick as it affects the immune system. In order to alleviate stress, you can include a few de-stressing habits such as exercising regularly, meditating, practicing muscle relaxation techniques and more.
While cough and cold can be treated easily by targeting the cause, it is ideal to ensure that you do not get affected by these conditions, as they can cause a lot of discomfort and put a wrench in your daily activities. Following proper hygiene and boosting your immunity go a long way in preventing sickness and keeping you healthy!