What To Do When You Are Coughing – From drugstore staples to home remedies, find out what to include in your arsenal for quick cough relief.
Which cough medicine works best? It depends on the type of cough and the time of day. Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock
What To Do When You Are Coughing
When you’re dealing with a cough, that annoying tickle in your throat can kick in at the worst times, like during a Zoom meeting or when you’re desperately trying to sleep.
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However irritating a cough can be, it is a healthy response to an irritant in the throat or airways. The stimulus stimulates the nerves that send messages to the brain; Your brain then tells your chest and abdominal muscles to push air out of your lungs to clear out the irritants, the Mayo Clinic says.
Many medical conditions can cause coughing, including colds, flu, allergies, nasal drips (when phlegm drips from the back of the nose down to the throat) and acid reflux (when stomach acid travels up the esophagus and irritates the trachea).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a cough can also be a symptom of COVID-19. So if you think you may have COVID-19, make sure you get tested and isolate yourself from others while you wait for your results.
Whatever the cause, a cough can be quite irritating if you have it (and also quite irritating to your bedmate or office colleague). Good news. “Most coughs go away within a few weeks, no matter what you do,” says Alvin Carrasquillo, MD, MPH, chief of internal medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida.
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Do it to feel better and breathe easier, at least temporarily, he adds. Below are 10 that are worth trying both day and night.
If your cough is getting you through the day (or becoming a burden at work), try one of these remedies to tame a hacking attack.
Over-the-counter expectorants (such as Mucinex or Robitussin 12 Hour Cough & Mucus Relief) contain guaifenesin, which thins respiratory secretions in the airways. This can help you cough up excess mucus more effectively and breathe more easily.
To temporarily relieve a dry cough, try taking an OTC cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, which blocks the cough reflex.
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A disclaimer to remember. Don’t give cough medicine to children under four, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); Between the ages of 4 and 6, use cough medicine only when your child’s doctor recommends it.
The warmth of a drink, such as tea or lemon water, can soothe a dry or sore throat from coughing. Warm liquids also help loosen mucus, making it easier to cough up. If you add a few drops of honey, you get a natural cough suppressant (more on this below).
Getting enough fluids is always a good idea, and even more so when you have a cold. Staying well hydrated will help thin the mucus, which in turn will make coughing more effective. Water is ideal, but a soothing broth is also essential.
Cough drops are good at soothing a dry, irritated throat and reducing the constant need to cough. No lozenges? No worries. Any hard candy will stimulate saliva production and provide the moisture needed to relieve a dry cough, notes the Cleveland Clinic.
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We all know that sleep is the best medicine, especially when it comes to fighting the common cold. If your wheezing is keeping you awake all night, try these night remedies to help make it go away.
These options often include an antihistamine, which can make you drowsy. It’s not ideal during the day, but it can be helpful at night if you have a dry cough that keeps you awake.
However, if you have a productive or wet cough (when you cough up mucus), it may be better to use an expectorant both during the day and at night. The drying effect of the antihistamine can make mucus thicker and harder to clear from the airways, which can make coughing worse, says the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Adding honey to a cup of tea is an age-old remedy that soothes an irritated throat and soothes a cough. And there is some science that supports this idea. A review study published in April 2021 in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine found that honey was superior to OTC medications in reducing the frequency and severity of coughs caused by upper respiratory infections.
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You can try taking a teaspoon or two of honey before bed, alone or mixed with a cup of tea or warm water. (Don’t give honey to children under one year of age; it won’t help with symptoms and could cause a condition called infant botulism, warns the AAP.)
Placing a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier by your bedside can help keep your airways moist and less likely to wake you up with a dry cough. It will also help in effective coughing by thinning the mucus and making it easier to expectorate.
(A vaporizer can also provide relief from a cough during the day, so you can place it where you spend the most time, such as in your office or family room.)
Coughing is often worse at night because gravity causes mucus to build up in the throat instead of expelling it when lying down. This triggers the cough reflex as a way to expel this mucus.
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Elevating your head can help counteract the problem. Sleeping this way also helps relieve GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which can make you cough at night.
To start the night with a clear throat, gargle with a warm salt water solution. This can reduce coughing by soothing throat irritation, loosening thick mucus, and removing irritants from the throat.
Simply mix ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, gargle for as long as possible, then spit out the solution.
If you just can’t shake off your cough after a few weeks or experience wheezing, fever, shortness of breath, or persistent chest pain or tightness, see your doctor, Dr. Carrasquillo says. These are signs that it could be something more serious, such as chronic sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and even heart problems.
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Whether you choose tea with honey or chopped onions, these home remedies will help control your cough. Coughing up blood (haemoptysis) involves coughing up or spitting up blood mixed with mucus or saliva. It can have many causes, most of which are not serious. However, you should seek medical attention right away if you cough up a lot of blood, your cough gets worse, or you experience additional symptoms such as chest pain, blood in your urine or stools, or fever.
Coughing up blood involves coughing up or spitting up blood or bloody mucus from the lower respiratory tract (lungs and throat). Also called haemoptysis (pronounced “he-MOP-tih-sis”), coughing up blood is common and can have many causes. Most causes are not serious. However, you may need to go to the emergency room right away if you are coughing up large amounts of blood.
Coughed up blood often looks frothy or frothy and is mixed with mucus or saliva. It may appear pink, red, or rusty, and is usually found in small amounts.
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Coughing up blood (haemoptysis) is not the same as vomiting blood (haematemesis). Coughing up blood usually looks like blood-stained saliva mixed with mucus. Blood flows from the throat or mouth. Vomiting blood is the excretion of large amounts of blood. It usually involves internal bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
This can be. It all depends on the cause of the blood loss and the amount of blood lost. Most causes are not serious and can be treated. However, coughing up blood can be a sign of serious illness, such as a serious infection or lung cancer. Losing too much blood at one time can be life threatening and require immediate medical attention.
Only a healthcare professional can determine how serious your condition is. If you are coughing up large amounts of blood or if your condition is not improving,
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