Signs and Symptoms of a Cough
A cough occurs when there is inflammation or irritation in the lungs, throat, larynx, or bronchial tubes. There are two main types of coughs: congested and dry. A congested cough typically occurs when you have a cold, and is often accompanied by a stuffy nose or sore throat. A dry cough, however, will have a more raspy feel to it without any phlegm.
Causes of a Cough
A congested cough often occurs due to a cold, flu, or sinus/bronchial infection and is often called bronchitis. In this situation, you must usually wait at least 7 to 10 days until your body fights off the infection. However, a number of home remedies listed below can help boost your immune system to shorten an episode of bronchitis, while others can help to thin the mucus so that it is easier to cough up.
A dry cough often occurs due to smoking, asthma, dust, or pollution. Rapid temperature changes can also lead to a dry cough. In this case, the best solution is to moisturize your throat by drinking warm fluids, which helps sooth your mucus membranes.
Note that if your cough persists for more than a week, or if you are coughing up blood, you should see your doctor immediately.
Home Remedies for Coughing or Bronchitis
Treat a Cough With Fluids
Drinking lots of fluids is a great way to help relieve a cough, since fluids make the mucus easier to cough up. Warm liquids or water at room temperature work best. However, caffeine or alcohol should be avoided since they are diuretics, which cause you to urinate more often and actually lose more fluids than you gain. 1
Inhale Steam and Aromatherapy to Treat Bronchitis
A simple home remedy to help moisten your throat and loosen the mucus is to inhale steam.
An effective way to do this is to fill your bathroom sink with hot water, and then drape a towel over your head while you lean above the sink. Inhale the steam from the sink for 5 to 10 minutes every few hours throughout the day. 2
Adding 5 to 10 drops of certain essential oils to the hot water can also help stimulate your lungs to expel phlegm. Some effective oils are Thyme Essential Oil and Peppermint Oil.
Use a Humidifier to Treat a Cough
During the winter, a cool-mist vaporizer or humidier is a great way to help thin the mucus that leads to coughing. The best time to use a humidifier is during the night while you sleep. Be sure to clean the vaporizer/humidifier often to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria. 3
Foods to Help Soothe a Cough
Some people have found that eating hot chili peppers, horse-radish, or other spicy foods can help loosen the mucus that leads to congested coughing. 4
It is also important to avoid foods that lead to extra mucus production, such as meat, dairy products, and fried foods.
Increasing your intake of Vitamins A, C and E is also beneficial, since they help to boost your immune system and fight off infections that lead to coughing/bronchitis. 5
For dry coughs, a teaspoon of honey has been found to be very beneficial in soothing the lining of your throat. 6
Garlic and Honey to Relieve a Cough
- Take 3 or 4 cloves of garlic.
- Peel the cloves and then chop them into small pieces.
- Mix the cloves in a cup of honey and let the mixture sit overnight.
- Take one teaspoon of this honey and garlic mixture twice daily.