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The 6 Best Home Remedies for Cough and What to Avoid




The 6 Best Home Remedies for Cough and What to Avoid
csighs: it makes it difficult to have a phone call or a Zoom meeting, a good night’s sleep impossible and exercising unpleasant. Not to mention, an aggressive side eye can be thrown your way if you do it in public.

Although coughing is often associated with upper respiratory illnesses like a cold or flu, there are several reasons why you might be hacking right now. “A cough is a protective mechanism to get irritants out of your airways. It results from your vocal cords hitting together to expel the irritant, creating a sound,” explains Inna Husain, MD, medical director of otolaryngology at Community Care Network in Munster, Indiana. Coughing can be caused by postnasal drip, allergies, asthma, lung infection and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Penn Medicine.

Experts in this article

  • Inna Husain, MDENT specialist at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana
  • Jen Caudle, DOgeneral practitioner and associate professor at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey

And a cough can last a while. A systematic review and meta-analysis found that most people recovered from a cough within nine to 11 days, but only 40 to 67 percent of people said their cough was completely gone after two weeks. BMC Primary Care in 2021. That’s a long time to hold a hack.

So it makes sense that you would be looking for effective home remedies for coughs. It’s also worth trying to reduce coughing (or its cousin, throat clearing) in general. “Coughing can cause coughing by causing more airway hypersensitivity,” says Dr. Husain. Meaning: The more you cough, the more you cough. So it’s better to do something about it now.

Here are the best home remedies for coughs, what to avoid, and the signs you should see a doctor.

Keep the air moist

Your airways prefer to be hydrated, says Dr. Husain. A cool mist humidifier adds moisture to the air to relieve some of the dryness that can contribute to coughing.

Add a humidifier to your office space if you work from home, and place one in your bedroom to help reduce coughing at night.

Drink warm fluids

Whether you like tea or a mug of broth, warm liquids can soothe a cough, says Jen Caudle, DOgeneral practitioner and associate professor at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

If you’ve been sick, you probably know firsthand how comforting this natural cough remedy is. Although there is no recent data to support this, a previous study in Rhinology in 30 people with colds or flu, a steamy drink was found to ‘provide immediate relief’ from symptoms, including coughing. And yes, a room temperature drink was also found to help reduce coughs, but the warmth of a hot drink could address more universal symptoms of these upper respiratory infections, making people feel better overall.

So if you want to know how to get rid of a cough in five minutes, for example before that big work presentation, we promise nothing, but sip on a mug of hot tea or even hot water with a little lemon or honey. could be the trick.

Take some honey

It’s the sweet life: There is some evidence that using honey can help reduce cough frequency and severity BMJ evidence-based medicine in 2022. Combining it with hot herbal tea is perhaps the best home remedy for cough.

Honey is a hack that also works for children who also hack, according to a meta-analysis of ten studies in the United States. European Journal of Pediatrics in 2023, which showed that honey reduced cough frequency better than a placebo, and helped improve sleep at night.

One important thing to remember: honey is not safe for babies under 1 year old and it is possible for children to be allergic to honey, so keep an eye out for any side effects.

Drink fluids

When you were little and stayed home from school, your mother probably told you to stay hydrated, placing a cup of water down and encouraging you to drink. (And honestly, she can still give you this advice, even as an adult.) She’s right.

“Fluids are usually very helpful because they help thin the mucus,” says Dr. Caudle. Fluids also keep your tissues moist, making them feel better if they are irritated from a lot of coughing. If you have a cough with phlegm, make sure you hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Hot herbal tea (with honey) works well for this, but if you’re in a pinch, regular H2O works well too.

Try nasal irrigation

If your cough is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a stuffy runny nose, it may be postnasal drip that is causing coughing fits. “Concentrate your efforts on a nasal regimen to reduce the drip,” says Dr. Husain. “Nasal saline with a Neti pot draws the mucus forward so it doesn’t drip down your throat,” she says.

Try NeilMed’s NasaFlo Neti Pot ($14.99, target).

Remember to follow the directions when using it, including – most importantly – using distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. US Food & Drug Administration. Tap water may contain harmful organisms that can cause infections if they enter your nasal passages.

Perform a nasal rinse one to three times a day, according to UCLA Health.

Raise your head

One of the best things you can do when you are sick is rest. But it’s hard to get the sleep your body needs to deliver a knockout blow to a virus when you’re coughing all night. One of the best home remedies for coughing at night is lifting your head.

Sleeping on an elevated surface can reach the source of the cough in two ways. “This helps with postnasal drip that hits your airways, but it also helps prevent nocturnal reflux,” says Dr. Husain. Additionally, she points out, some medications you take when you’re sick, such as ibuprofen, can predispose you to reflux.

Using an extra pillow can be useful if you have just become ill, but it can cause some neck problems. Ideally, use a wedge cushion, which resembles a slope.

What to avoid when you cough

The name of the game, says Dr. Husain: “Be kind to your throat tissue when you cough.” That means avoiding carbonated drinks and foods that can irritate the insides even more, such as spicy or especially crunchy foods.

Additionally, turn off your ceiling fans: They tend to spew dust and dry air throughout a room that can irritate the airways, says Dr. Husain. Smoke and tobacco smoke are also respiratory irritants, so avoid these as well.

If you have a cough caused by allergies or asthma, avoid triggers, such as pet dander or dust mites. And if acid reflux is a regular problem for you, you’ll want to avoid things that cause heartburn, such as eating fatty and fried foods, drinking alcohol or coffee, or taking aspirin, according to the guidelines. Mayo Clinic.

Can you prevent coughing?

It depends on why you are coughing in the first place, and whether the cough is caused by an illness, such as a cold, which will get better with time, or more by a chronic condition, such as allergies or asthma.

For example, allergies can cause a chronic, dry cough, according to the website American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). By starting seasonal allergy medications early, for example by Valentine’s Day if you have spring allergies, the ACAAI– you can help prevent symptoms such as coughing.

The key point is to ensure that conditions such as allergies, asthma or acid reflux are both diagnosed and managed properly. If not, make an appointment with your doctor to create a plan so you don’t have to live with a chronic cough.

When should you see a doctor if you have a cough?

A cough can last a long time, but if you have an upper respiratory infection it should get better as you recover. If your cough lasts more than a few weeks or you have additional symptoms, such as wheezing or shortness of breath, see a doctor, says the Mayo Clinic.

But actually you don’t have to wait that long. “As physicians, we want to look for the underlying cause of the cough,” says Dr. Caudle. Because if you know that, you can treat the problem, which will get rid of the cough in the most effective way.

In some cases, like the common cold, there is no treatment (womp, womp), so your best bet is to do one of the things on this list for DIY cough relief until your body fights the virus and your symptoms go away. However, there are antiviral treatments for COVID-19 and flu, but you should test for them immediately if symptoms arise.

That said, if a virus isn’t the culprit, not all the tea or honey in the world will completely cure a cough caused by postnasal drip from allergies or acid reflux. You will need to identify and treat these conditions. stop coughing.

Persistent coughs should not be treated at home because prolonged coughing can be a sign of so many other problems, such as a serious infection, says StatPearls. One of the worst things you can do is pour on cough medicine without knowing why you’re coughing persistently. Make an appointment with your doctor so that you can breathe calmly again.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust research to support the information we share. You can trust us on your wellness journey.

  1. Bergmann M, Haasenritter J, Beidatsch D, Schwarm S, Hörner K, Bösner S, Grevenrath P, Schmidt L, Viniol A, Donner-Banzhoff N, Becker A. Prevalence, etiology and prognosis of the symptom of cough in primary care: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Fam Pract. 2021 Jul 12;22(1):151. doi:10.1186/s12875-021-01501-0. PMID: 34253179; PMCID: PMC8274469.

  2. Sanu A, Eccles R. The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of colds and flu. Rhinology. December 2008; 46(4):271-5. PMID: 19145994.

  3. Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Evid-based Med. 2021 Apr;26(2):57-64. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336. Epub 2020 Aug 18. PMID: 32817011.

  4. Kuitunen I, Renko M. Honey for acute cough in children – a systematic review. Eur J Pediatrician. 2023 Sep;182(9):3949-3956. doi:10.1007/s00431-023-05066-1. Epub Jun 25 2023. PMID: 37355498; PMCID: PMC10570220.

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