Coughing is a common reflex action that occurs when mucus drains down into your air passages. It helps clear your airways of irritants and mucus.
According to a 2015 study published in Lung India, coughing can be a warning sign of several respiratory and non-respiratory diseases and is one of the most common reasons for adults seeking medical treatment.
Basically, there are two types of coughs: productive and nonproductive. While a productive cough produces phlegm or mucus, clearing it from the lungs, a nonproductive cough (dry cough) doesn’t produce phlegm or mucus.
A dry cough poses a great diagnostic and management challenges, due to myriad etiologies and its many possible causes.
Some common causes of dry cough are asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), postnasal drip and some kind of viral infection.
Other less common causes of a dry cough are environmental irritants like smoke, pollution, dust, mold and pollen that can irritate your airways; living in a dry climate; use of ACE inhibitors; whooping cough; collapsed lung; and even lung cancer in some cases.
Regardless of the cause, an ongoing dry cough can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life. It can make it especially difficult to enjoy sound sleep at night.
To treat a dry cough, there are many over-the-counter and prescription drugs available, but they come with a lot of side effects. You can get rid of your persistent and dry cough with some effective cough remedies.
Caution: Always seek emergency medical help if you are having trouble breathing or are coughing up blood.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for a dry cough.
Honey is a very effective natural cure for a dry cough.
According to a 2007 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, parents rated honey as more effective for a cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infections than over-the-counter medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant.
Honey triggers the salivary glands to produce more saliva, which in turn lubricates your airways, easing your cough. It also has antioxidant properties that fight inflammation and boost immunity.
Caution: Do not give honey to children younger than age 1 because of an increased risk of botulism.
Another simple, yet effective home remedy for an irritating dry cough is raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. This remedy is very effective if your dry cough is caused by heartburn or acid reflux.
Inhaling steam helps reduce inflammation in your respiratory tract and this helps in the treatment of a dry cough. It also aids in mucus drainage.
You can add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice to the water to increase the antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.
Also, a hot shower can help a cough by loosening secretions in the nose.
Another popular remedy for a dry cough is gargling with salt water.
Salt water eases the discomfort caused by a cough and helps a sore throat-through osmosis. It helps dislodge any phlegm that’s hanging out and allows you to expel it easily.
The warm water also has a soothing effect on the throat.
Ginger is also effective for a dry cough. Being an expectorant, it helps you expel any mucus and phlegm as well as reducing the intensity and duration of coughing bouts. It also helps reduce airway inflammation and inhibit airway contraction.
Moreover, it has immune-boosting properties that help promote quick recovery.
Licorice works as an expectorant and demulcent, thus helping soothe your airways while loosening and thinning the mucus, easing a dry cough.
Its anti-inflammatory properties also help reduce irritation in the throat that causes coughing fits.
To soothe a dry cough, you need to increase your fluid intake.
Drinking more water helps thin out the mucus and keeps the mucous membranes moist. This is particularly helpful if you live in a dry climate.
Experts recommend drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day for optimum health. When you have a dry cough, drink about 2 glasses more than your usual daily water intake until your symptoms subside.
However, you must avoid cold water. Opt for clear broth or warm lemon water, green tea or warm milk. At the same time, avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
Humidifiers may also help with a dry cough. In a dry environment, nasal secretions can become dried out and uncomfortable, which can worsen the symptoms.
By putting moisture back in the air, you can reduce the discomforts. Moist air helps ease breathing and lessens the intensity of coughing fits, especially when you’re sleeping at night.
Whether you are using a humidifier or a bowl of hot water, be sure to place it in a safe place to prevent accidents.
Environmental and other irritants are one of the main causes of a dry cough, and avoiding the irritants is a must if you wish to treat a dry cough naturally.
The worst irritant that causes a dry cough is, of course, smoke. The harmful smoke from cigarettes may cause airway irritation. Almost all smokers suffer from this irritating problem from time to time. So, stop smoking and avoid places where you get exposed to secondhand smoke.
At the same time, you need to avoid dust and other pollutants in the air. You may wear a face mask when you have no choice but to be in the presence of such irritants.
Also, look out for perfumes and scented bathroom sprays that may cause sinus irritation and lead to a dry cough.
If your dry cough is more persistent during the night when you’re trying to sleep, try keeping your upper body in an upright position while sleeping.
Keeping yourself in an upright position can help make breathing easier and relieve a dry cough. On the other hand, lying flat can lead to coughing fits, which will only aggravate the condition.
Also, it can help ease a dry cough due to acid reflux. A completely flat posture can give way to acid reflux, triggering a cough.
To keep yourself elevated while sleeping, place a high pillow under the mattress.
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