Cough is the body’s response to keep the airways free of irritants or obstructions to make an individual breathe effectively. Most frequently, consumers turn to over-the-counter medications for immediate relief.
If the cough lasts more than two weeks, it is crucial to rule out the underlying reason through proper diagnosis with the help of a doctor. Until then, one can rely on home remedies to treat cough symptoms.
Coughing is a reflex action that clears the airways containing mucus and allergens along with irritants like smoke and dust. There are two types of coughs—dry and wet coughs. A dry cough is an unproductive cough that produces no mucus. A cough that produces phlegm or mucus is referred to as a wet or chesty cough.
Dry cough can arise from several reasons, including
- Common cold
- Post-viral cough
A dry cough can be exasperated by
- Air pollution
- Inhaling irritants like smoke or dust
- Temperature change
- Breathing cold and dry air
The aim of treating a dry cough is to alleviate its symptoms while also treating its underlying cause. Cough suppressants like Dextromethorphan or pholcodine may be taken to lessen the urge to cough.
To help stop persistent, dry, tickly coughs—pholcodine, a cough suppressor, is prescribed in dry cough remedies. Pholcodine acts on the cough centre in the brain to suppress the cough reflex and halt coughing.
Dextromethorphan also functions as a cough suppressor, affecting the cough control centre to relieve dry coughs in a calming manner.
Natural home remedies to treat dry cough
Getting adequate rest and practising a few self-care tips can help manage dry coughs. A dry cough can significantly affect daily life and interfere with sleep at night.
Many traditional home remedies for dry cough have been handed down through the generations. They are effective even for short-term use.
One of the common and traditional home remedies for dry cough is honey. Honey is natural and has anti-inflammatory properties. It works by coating the throat and helps reduce the severity of small viral or bacterial illnesses due to its antibacterial properties.
Although it is effective for both adults and children, infants and toddlers should not be given honey. Honey causes the salivary glands to create more saliva, lubricating the airways and reducing coughing.
It is advisable to take one to three tablespoons of honey every day to suppress the dry cough. Honey can also be consumed by mixing it into a cup of hot water or herbal tea and sipping it twice daily.
Turmeric, which has the compound curcumin, is another multipurpose ingredient for cough relief. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties, turmeric is helpful for many conditions, including dry cough.
Ayurvedic physicians have used turmeric for ages to treat anything from respiratory illnesses to arthritis.
A teaspoon of turmeric can be mixed with hot milk or any other hot beverage and consumed right before bed to prevent throat irritation. One can also directly consume 500 mg of turmeric powder twice daily.
Ginger is an effective natural treatment for dry cough. In addition to boosting immunity and easing pain, ginger possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. As an expectorant, ginger is known to aid in expelling mucus and reducing the severity of coughing episodes.
Consider choosing teas with ginger as an ingredient. A glass of hot water with half a teaspoon of ginger powder is effective when taken thrice a day.
As an alternative, combine a spoonful of raw honey with ginger juice and consume it twice daily. Consuming too much ginger may cause gastrointestinal distress, so one must be cautious.
Since ancient times, the herb’ marshmallow root’ has been hailed for its myriad medical advantages.
The significant uses of this plant are to control coughing and soothe sore throats, particularly the roots and leaves. Mucilage present in the marshmallow plant covers the throat and calms inflammation.
These days, marshmallow herb is widely accessible in a variety of forms. Marshmallow roots can be used as tea and pills. Tea is favoured since it is warm and reduces throat inflammation. Many cough medicines have marshmallow herbs as their main component.
The root of the marshmallow can be consumed as a tea, tincture or capsule. Drink several cups of tea daily, sip a glass of water infused with 30 to 40 drops of tincture every day, or take split doses of capsules with the equivalent of 6g of powdered root every day to treat dry cough.
Due to the presence of menthol content, peppermint leaves are particularly well known for their healing abilities.
Both drinking peppermint tea and inhaling the aromas from steam are helpful for sore throats and coughs.
When a few drops of peppermint oil are added to bubbling water, it aids in removing congestion and helps recover from dry cough.
One can add 3-5 peppermint leaves to water and let it boil for a short while before sipping on the tea.
One of the most popular natural cures for dry cough is masala chai. Masala chai or tea has long been in use in Indian households.
Black pepper, cinnamon powder, cardamom and cloves pack can also be incorporated into the tea as they help treat dry coughs.
Cardamom and cloves are antioxidants, which aid in neutralising the toxin in addition to relieving throat discomfort.
Also, masala chai can counteract the cough-inducing effects of pollution and dust particles.
Chilli peppers belong to the plant genus Capsicum, which produces a hydrophobic substance known as capsaicin. An NCBI article states that capsaicin intake can reduce the frequency and severity of coughs.
When we eat spicy food, capsaicin attaches to pain receptors and produces a familiar burning sensation.
Studies have suggested that consuming capsaicin-containing chilli powder in moderation considerably increases throat sensitivity and, as a result, reduces a dry cough. But further research is essential to prove the effect of capsaicin as dry cough relief.
Aromatherapy with eucalyptus
As an aromatherapy technique, eucalyptus oil can be used to treat dry cough by adding a few drops of the oil to hot water and inhaling the vapours.
Due to its expectorant properties, eucalyptus is a great essential oil for coughs since it helps the body get rid of the toxins and bacteria that cause illness. When a person is frequently coughing and has trouble breathing, it can also help dilate the blood vessels since it allows more oxygen to enter the lungs.
Diffusing 5 drops of eucalyptus oil around the home, especially just before night, is the ideal method to utilise as an essential oil for cough.
Use only a small amount of eucalyptus, starting with 1-2 drops, and apply it topically to the chest and neck to lessen the severity of the cough.
Making a homemade vapour rub using olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, peppermint, and eucalyptus is another way to use eucalyptus and other essential oils for coughing. Remember that children under the age of two should not be exposed topically to eucalyptus.
Use a humidifier
Having a humidifier at home can considerably reduce coughs and throat soreness. Humidifiers can be used to temporarily decrease the symptoms of a dry cough since they help to soothe the throat.
Coughing may be brought on or made worse by breathing dry air. A humidifier helps ease dry coughing during sleep by introducing moisture to the air in the house. It is more challenging to cough or blow out the mucus in dry air. The nasal, throat and lung passages are made clear by humidifiers.
Gargle with salt water
Due to saltwater gargling’s efficiency in relieving a sore throat, doctors always recommend it when patients adopt home remedies for dry cough. Since saltwater is osmotic, which alters the flow of fluids, it draws moisture away from irritated spots, thereby reducing swelling and irritation from dry coughing.
Take a warm glass of water and add a half tablespoon of salt to it. Let the saltwater sit in the back of the throat for a little while before spitting out. For the best results, repeat and continue for several days.
Repeatedly gargle with salt water each day until the cough subsides. Don’t give small toddlers saltwater to gargle since they might swallow it and get sick.
Antitussive cough syrup
Dextromethorphan is the most widely used active ingredient in antitussives. They function by suppressing the cough reflex.
Antitussives stop dry coughs and are typically used for a brief period of time to suppress coughs arising due to flu, cold or inhaling irritants.
The medicine Dextromethorphan is advised to be taken orally every four hours for adults (10 mg to 20 mg) or every six to eight hours (30 mg). The maximum daily dose for adults is 120 mg.
The dose of 5 to 10 mg or 15 mg is advisable to be administered orally every 6 to 8 hours for children aged 6 to 11 years. The recommended dose of the medication for children is 60 mg per day.
Children below six years should not take this drug. Dextromethorphan can be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
Cough drops or lozenges usually contain ingredients like eucalyptus, menthol and honey. Cough drops are helpful for soothing the throat and reducing cough reflexes.
Menthol is the most often used drug in cough drops. The oils of peppermint, eucalyptus and other mint plants are usually included while preparing organic cough drops. The cooling and soothing effects of menthol on the throat are beneficial for dry cough.
For people with a cough or cold, it’s essential to stay warm and hydrated. Consuming a hot beverage makes the symptoms disappear right away.
Warm liquids, including water, clear soups and herbal teas, can rapidly relieve chills, dry coughs and throat discomfort. These effects last for a while after the hot beverage has been consumed.
Since the European Black Plague, thyme has been utilised as a medicine. It has an antispasmodic substance that aids in soothing throat muscles.
Thyme not only works well as a natural cure for a sore throat and dry cough but also has antioxidant characteristics that help with stomach problems.
Drink thyme tea a few times daily. One can add lemon juice for flavour or honey to sweeten it.
The presence of menthol in mint leaves is beneficial for cough. It works by numbing the nerve endings in the throat. This suppresses the urge to cough. Mint leaves are also great for providing relief from throat congestion.
Making a therapeutic drink involves adding a few mint leaves while preparing tea and boiling it. One can consume the drink at bedtime to prevent coughing at night.
How to prevent cough?
Knowing the cause of dry cough is essential to deciding on a treatment plan.
Decongestants and cough syrups are first-line treatments given for immediate dry cough relief. Home remedies can also be followed simultaneously to hasten the recovery process.
Preventing cough requires drinking plenty of fluids, staying away from allergens, consuming nutritious food and being free of illness.
When to visit a doctor for dry cough?
A dry cough typically goes away on its own after a few days or weeks. However, it is advisable to have a doctor consultation if a cough develops into a chronic one, which means it persists for several weeks, along with other health issues.
Home remedies are more effective and preferable than prescription drugs if a person gets sick from a cough or cold. However, one must be cautious while using home remedies.
Additionally, take many treatments simultaneously to reduce the effects. The patient should visit a doctor as soon as possible if the cough or pain does not go away in 4 to 5 days.
Medications or other treatments are not mandatory if the symptoms do not affect a person.
It is always advisable to treat symptoms if they make the patient feel uncomfortable or bother them extremely.
How do you get rid of a dry cough fast?
Drinking adequate fluids, taking cough suppressants, using humidifiers and trying home remedies help get rid of dry cough fast.
How do I stop a dry cough suddenly?
Oral demulcents and cough suppressants (cough syrups and cough drops) provide sudden and quick relief from dry cough.
What is the best medicine for dry cough?
Antitussives or cough suppressants like Dextromethorphan work better for dry cough. They function by suppressing the cough reflex.
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