At first, a cough seems like an easy to fix ailment. When wanting to know how to get rid of a cough. we realize a cough is rarely the symptom of a serious illness and is usually solvable by cheap and natural remedies. In fact, all coughs have the same common cause, which should indicate that how to get rid of a cough is fairly straightforward. Yet, it is not that cut and dry.
What Causes the Cough?
The cough is a physical reaction to an irritant in the lungs, chest, or throat. Specifically, the nerve endings in the mouth, throat, lungs, or chest become irritated, either directly by an environmental source, such as dust or debris, or due to the production of mucous . The reaction to this irritation is a clearing gush of wind that we call a cough.
However, upon further reading you learn that not all coughs are created equal, and there are different types of coughs. The differences arise because each type of cough has a different environmental cause . The remedies for how to get rid of a cough are, likewise, different.
The Types of Coughs
In general, there are two types of coughs. Of course, there are nuances on this generalization, as a cough can be asthma related or something more serious, such as bronchitis . These illnesses usually require a doctor’s visit and advice. However, we will focus on the cough associated with environmental irritants and the common cold.
The first of these two general types of cough is called a dry or hacking cough. This is a cough that originates in the back of the throat. Environmental irritants such as dust, debris, or allergens typically cause a dry cough . In most instances, a dry cough only lasts a few seconds or minutes as the body naturally removes the source.
However, if the allergen or other irritant is constantly present, such a cough can be very persistent. How to get rid of a cough that is dry or hacking requires soothing and moistening of the throat, as discussed later.
On the other hand, a productive cough is one that produces mucous or phlegm. A productive cough is typically associated with germs or illness. The bacteria or germ stimulates an overproduction of mucous from the glands. Then the body must remove this excess mucous or phlegm that collects in the lungs or chest . The result is a wet or productive cough.
A productive cough subsides when the body has vanquished the bacteria or germ . Therefore, how to get rid of a cough that is productive or wet requires loosening the mucous and slowing the production of excess mucous. Funny, enough while very different in source, sound, and symptom there are certain remedies that work for both types of cough.
Sweet Like Honey
One natural and easy way to relieve a productive couch is with a spoonful of honey. Honey acts as a demulcent, which is a substance that covers the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat to ward of irritants and stop the resulting mucous production.
Certain studies have found that honey has antibacterial properties. Therefore, it helps to rid the mouth and throat of bacteria long after you swallow . Additionally, honey is inexpensive, all natural, and easy to obtain, which makes it a great starting place when trying to determine how to get rid of a cough.
How to Get Rid of a Cough: Old Time Remedies that Work
Another natural remedy for how to get rid of a cough or quiet a cough is to gargle warm salt water. This is the likely remedy employed by your grandmother or great-aunt, but there is no need to dismiss this old-time tradition. There is some science behind the use of this basic remedy.
The temperature of the water provides some soothing relief to the irritated throat, while the antiseptic properties of the salt infuse moisture into the mouth and throat .
Speaking of grandma, there is wise wisdom in other of her home remedies. Likely the most famous one being hot tea for a sore throat or cough. In particular, studies have shown that peppermint is helpful for a constant cough .
Peppermint has menthol qualities that sooth the throat and loosen mucous . This lessens the irritants in the throat and chest and, in turn, encourages a cough to clear faster.
Steamy Like Sunday Morning
You might be noticing a trend in these home remedies for how to get rid of a cough. It is hot or warm water. The next cough cure is no different and it is an activity already a part of your daily routine. Simply, take hot showers. Unlike the soothing quality of warm saltwater or peppermint tea, hot showers are all about the steam.
As you stand under the warm water, breathe deeply. The steam will loosen phlegm in your throat and chest for an easy and free remedy . The logic behind a long, hot shower is the same as a vaporizer in the bedroom. If hot showers are not solving a productive cough, consider stepping it up with an overnight vaporizer for a few nights or a week.
Spice Things Up
When it comes to a dry cough, there are some other options for how to get rid of a cough. A good first inning against such a cough is ginger . The ginger used in teas, over salads, and in curries is the root or rhizome of a flowering plant. Ginger is most commonly thought of as a spice, but the therapeutic and medical properties of the root are many.
Among the many benefits of including ginger in a regular diet is alleviating a dry cough. Often, when a person suffers from a dry cough the mucous or other irritant is sitting, compact, in the chest and lungs. Ginger works to break down the mucus and expel it from the body .
This means a high dose of ginger, through consumption of the root itself or a supplement, can cause a runny nose or wet cough for a few days, but it will eventually rid the body of congestion.
Power of the Pineapple
Another way to counter-punch a tough cough through your diet is with bromelain. This is a peculiar enzyme that is found in only one place, pineapple . If you didn’t see that coming, neither did most health professionals and nutritionists. It took a long time for nutritionists to realize what bromelain was and how it helped the body. However, when it comes to the causes behind coughs, bromelain handles quite a few.
Studies have shown that when it comes to how to get rid of a cough, bromelain is able to lessen the severity of a cough and begin to break up tough mucous in the throat [HL]. There is evidence, although inconclusive, that bromelain will also alleviate sinusitis and sinus based asthma .
Turn to Something Stronger
If these natural remedies are not solving how to get rid of a cough, particularly a producing cough, it might be time to turn to stronger remedies. Bring back memories of your childhood with Vick’s VapoRub. The best use of this menthol-based rub is best used rubbed into the chest and upper abdomen overnight, but a non-menthol version should be used on younger children .