Cough

Types of cough and fighting with them by natural methods

Cough

Cough is a symptom of many diseases and correctly identifying the type of cough can help you treat it at home or seek medical advice. The cause of the cough is determined by its characteristics, duration and severity. The two main types of cough are dry and productive / expectorant.

Cough is a voluntary or reflex act, which occurs at any age and aims to clean the airways of a source of irritation (mucus, smoke, dust, mold, pollen, a foreign body). The cough can be caused by dry or smoky air, exhaust fumes, chemical fumes, by the mucus from the nose flowing through the larynx, by the presence of an allergy or a respiratory infection.

Cough is a symptom of many conditions and can be slightly annoying (when talking on the phone, for example) or even dangerous (if you cough so hard that you end up vomiting). The most common cause of cough is an upper respiratory tract infection: cold, flu, bronchitis. They cause irritation, inflammation of the inner wall of the upper respiratory tract and sometimes mucus and phlegm. How cough is felt and heard helps to identify its cause and potential treatment methods.

What is cough?

Cough is a rapid expulsion of air from the lungs, being the way in which your body gets rid of an irritant from the throat or airways. They may be irritated by fluids, mucus or various other substances; so that the irritants do not reach the lungs, you cough, in the idea that this way the body will eliminate the dangerous agent. If it is insistent, the cough irritates your throat, causes you to have difficulty swallowing, can interrupt your sleep and cause fatigue and lethargy. Cough may occur alone or in combination with other symptoms, in more or less severe respiratory conditions.

Causes of cough

  1. Mechanical stimuli – dust, smoke, small foreign bodies (drowning with food or a button), tumor formations.
  2. Chemical stimuli – cigarette smoke, room air fresheners, volatile substances with a strong smell, ammonia, chlorine, sulfuric acid, the administration of certain drugs (against hypertension, beta-blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  3. Thermal stimuli – very hot or very cold air.
  4. Psychic stimuli – nervous cough expresses a subconscious conflict and worsens when the person is stressed.
  5. Inflammatory stimuli – diseases and conditions as follows:
    • cold and flu are contagious diseases, affect the upper respiratory system (cold) and lungs (flu) and cause coughing, sore throat and stuffy nose;
    • sinusitis is a common condition, manifested by inflammation of the sinuses inside the bones of the head, which contain mucus that protects the body from germs; when bacteria or allergens cause excess mucus, it blocks the sinuses and causes severe pain and coughing with sputum (which is more intense at night);
    • allergies also produce mucus, tickle the throat, irritate the eyes and lead to dry or productive cough;
    • asthma occurs with shortness of breath, difficult breathing (especially when exhaling) or wheezing, dry cough and a feeling of constriction and heaviness in the chest, due to narrowing of the airway in the lungs and airway inflammation; this cough occurs as a result of an allergic reaction to a substance present in the air (dust, pollen, mold); the cough is painful and occurs more often at night or during exercise;
    • acute bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchi, large airways in the lungs) has cough as a symptom; the disease is caused by a viral infection (in which case there is a mild cough, with minimal / clear phlegm) or bacterial (a more severe cough, with a viscous, green or yellow phlegm); lasts less than 10 days, but the cough may continue for several weeks;
    • chronic bronchitis comes with a persistent cough, which produces a lot of phlegm; it is almost always associated with smoking; it lasts a few weeks and is usually recurrent;
    • laryngitis: it can be acute and chronic, it is also manifested by an irritating cough, from which you cannot get rid; is an inflammation of the larynx, caused by excessive use of the vocal cords, an infection or certain irritants;
    • viral or bacterial infections of the lungs (pneumonia, tuberculosis) can generate a painful and productive cough, and those of the respiratory tract (convulsive / whooping cough) come with an uncontrollable cough;
    • pulmonary emphysema affects the lungs, especially at smokers; its main symptoms are chronic cough and shortness of breath;
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is characterized by a chronic cough, rich in mucus (especially in the morning) and is caused by smoking, pollution or exposure to chemicals;
    • measles: cough occurs with fever, runny nose and inflamed eyes;
    • gastroesophageal reflux disease is the second most common cause of chronic cough; this disease manifests itself when stomach acid rises through the esophagus and produces a dry, spasmodic cough; the cough gets worse when you sit horizontally or immediately after a meal;
    • lung cancer has among its symptoms (which manifests itself only in the advanced stage) a persistent cough and sputum with blood.

Types of cough

The easiest way to determine what type of cough you have is to carefully analyze how it sounds and how it affects your body. There are several types of cough and their associated diseases can overlap.

Cough can be described according to:
  • behavior and experience: when and why it occurs (at night, in the afternoon, while doing sports);
  • characteristics: how it sounds and how it feels when you cough (you have a dry throat, you feel mucus in your throat);
  • duration: how long you cough (for a few weeks, for a few months);
  • effects: causes other symptoms (vomiting, insomnia, urinary incontinence);
  • severity: how annoying it is (it annoys you, it is persistent, it upsets your daily life).

Depending on the characteristics, the cough may be:

  • dry cough: non-productive, dry;
  • productive / expectorant cough: which eliminates mucus and phlegm.

Depending on the duration, the cough may be:

  • acute cough: lasts more than 3 weeks; the causes that determine it are cold and flu, certain infections of the upper respiratory tract, convulsive cough;
  • persistent cough: lasts between 3 and 8 weeks; persists after a severe cold, for example;
  • chronic cough: exceeds 2 months; can be caused by asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, smoking and disappears after treatment against the trigger.

Below we have detailed the manifestations of the most common types of cough and the appropriate treatments for each:

Dry cough

It is caused by irritation of or inflammation of the airways, is manifested by the inability to stop coughing and feels as if something is tickling your throat. It is a symptom of cold, flu, allergic rhinitis, asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, acid reflux, taking certain medications. It can go away on its own. Its treatment includes proper hydration, the use of a humidifier, the use medications without a prescription (cough pills and cough syrup), natural remedies or doctor's advice, if it becomes chronic. In the case of an irritating cough caused by asthma, it worsens at night, disrupts sleep, may be accompanied by hissing or shortness of breath, and may indicate that asthma symptoms have worsened or that the disease is not being properly controlled.

Productive or expectorant cough

It is accompanied by mucus (clear in color, composed mainly of water) or phlegm / sputum (mucus that has done its job, protecting the tissues) and, when you cough, you do it with your whole chest. It can occur after you have sore throat or have a cold, or in case of asthma, allergies, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The expectorant cough is more severe in the morning, because during sleep you tend to cough less and the mucus produced during the 8 hours accumulates and must be eliminated. Its treatment includes hydration, the use of a humidifier, the administration of expectorants (without a prescription), natural treatments or antibiotics (in case of a respiratory infection, only on the advice of a doctor).

Convulsive cough (pertussis) or „whooping” cough

It is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It produces toxins that destroy the cilia of the bronchi and cause inflammation of the airways, resulting in violent and tiring coughing fits, during which you struggle to inhale enough oxygen or you may even vomit. The disease affects babies and people who have not been vaccinated against convulsive cough (the best way to protect against it). Symptoms also include mild fever, runny nose, periods of apnea, when the patient stops breathing (at children). Due to its severity, it requires a quick visit to a specialist, for treatment and to avoid complications (pneumonia, convulsions, encephalopathy).

„Barking” cough

It sounds like the noise made by a seal or a dog and causes inflammation of the upper respiratory tract - especially those in the larynx. It can occur in patients with croup (viral infection that causes swelling of the trachea and / or larynx): the inflammation and cough are so severe that you feel out of breath. Croup occurs most often in children under 5 years, begins with fever and runny nose, continues with cough and symptoms worsen at night or when the little one is upset. The treatment of this type of cough can be done at home (by hydration, the use of a humidifier, alternating steam and cold air, anti-fever drugs) or - in more severe cases - by using anti-inflammatory drugs.

Acid cough

If you start coughing often after a meal or in the middle of the night, you have an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth and sometimes even vomit because of a cough, then gastroesophageal reflux disease can be the cause. It causes stomach burns, which irritates your throat and leads to this type of chronic cough. Avoid rich meals in the evening, try to sleep on a higher and stronger pillow or take treatments designed to reduce the volume of acid produced in the stomach.

Smoker’s cough

A person who smokes can easily get used to the fact that he coughs frequently, but the fact that cigarette smoke constantly irritates the airways has harmful, long-term effects. This can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema, chronic bronchitis) and even lung cancer. The obvious solution against smoking cough is to quit smoking - which can reduce the cough by up to 94% in the first 4 weeks.

When do you have to go to a doctor?

A slightly annoying cough during a cold can be treated at home, depending on the type of cough, its duration and the age and health of the person. But some signs indicate that cough has worsened, has acute complications and is an alarm signal about serious diseases. An adult who coughs should see a doctor immediately if:

  • has a mild cough, which does not improve after a week or worsens after 3 days;
  • has a persistent cough, lasting for more than 3 weeks;
  • has a chronic cough, which appeared 8 weeks ago and no longer passes;
  • has a dry cough that lasts more than a month;
  • has a "barking" cough;
  • has a smoker's cough, which changes (the presence of blood);
  • has a high fever (above 38°C);
  • has pain in the chest area;
  • produces green / yellow phlegm throughout the day;
  • has an expectorant cough, with pink or bloody mucus;
  • breathes hard and cannot draw enough oxygen when inhaling;
  • feels that he is drowning and cannot swallow anything;
  • has daily acid reflux associated with cough and can no longer sleep uninterrupted;
  • is dehydrated and too weak to walk or talk;
  • coughs so much that he faints, vomits, has subconjunctival bleedings (red eyes) and urinary incontinence;
  • coughs after taking certain medicines;
  • suffers from a disease whose symptoms worsen due to cough.

Treatment methods

Medication

In pharmacies, medicines are available without prescription for both dry and productive cough:

Natural remedies

How can you fight cough through natural methods? Some plants soothe airway inflammation, fluidize mucus, act against infection or increase immunity. First of all, ask your family doctor if you can treat the cough you are suffering from with the methods below:

  • for all types of coughs, drink plenty of fluids (especially warm): choose hot water, fruit juices or teas; avoid drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol (they are diuretics and will dehydrate you even more, making it difficult to release mucus through coughing);
  • instead of medicines from the pharmacy, make ginger and essential oils drops at home, perfect for when you start to feel the cough;
  • black blueberry tea soothes a dry cough and can help relieve phlegm;
  • fresh carrot / turnip juice has an aseptic effect on the respiratory system, helps immunity and breaks down phlegm;
  • you can also drink leek juice (boil the leek, then press it into a clean gauze and sweeten it with honey to taste), onion or garlic juice (cut them into slices, put honey on top of them, leave it to stay overnight and the next day take 2 teaspoons of the juice obtained, every 2 hours); discover also the natural remedies presented on our website (onion syrup with honey, onion macerate with honey, onion macerate in water, onion macerate with honey and wine and onion tea);
  • cough can also be treated by consuming cabbage infusion or applying a poultice with cabbage leaves on the chest;
  • potato is also an effective vegetable (see on site cough remedy with onion, potato and apple and potato cough syrup);
  • against phlegm cough you can drink thyme, mallow, mulleins or hyssop tea (they fluidize and eliminate mucus);
  • gargle with an infusion of dates 3 times / day to calm your cough;
  • dry cough can be treated at home with an infusion with common lungwort (soothing and antispasmodic);
  • the coniferous can also be a reliable help: see the pine buds syrups, fir buds syrups or pine and fir buds syrups our website, which relieves cough of various etiologies (Pine bud syrup, Pine buds macerate with honey, Pine cones-buds macerate with honey);
  • to eliminate sore throat and cough, try to prepare and eat a special an old drink, called sodou with egg (Egg yolk);
  • nettle syrup with honey can regenerate tissues and help cough;
  • try making a black radish cough syrup at home, to soothe dry cough and smooth out sputum;
  • productive cough can also be treated by gargling with licorice tea;
  • gaia’s nail” and reishi mushrooms, administered in the form of capsules, tincture, infusion or incorporated into food, can also relieve a lot of types of cough.

Aromatherapy

  • for cough relief, you can also try a Sore Throat and Cough Homemade Spray or a spray with propolis and essential oils witha masc;
  • try steam inhalations over a bowl of hot water, in which you have added a few drops of peppermint / eucalyptus essential oil - put a few drops of them on a handkerchief / napkin and then inhale the vapors or leave the handkerchief under the pillow overnight (to soothe coughs caused by colds or sore throats); or inhale oregano oil, according to Dr. Oz's prescription);
  • make a mixture of cedar essential oil (3 drops), mint (2 drops) and cajeput (1 drop), incorporate it in 2 teaspoons of body lotion with no fragrant and massage the neck and chest area.

Homeopathic remedies

  • Aconitum (Aconitum noppelus): dry cough at children;
  • Bryonia (Bryonia alba): dry, painful cough that calms when pressed on the chest;
  • Hepar sulphuris calcareum (Hepar sulph): compound obtained from oyster shells heated together with calcium sulfide: dry, harsh cough with yellow mucus, which worsens in cold weather.

Prevention methods

  • avoid smoking;
  • avoid the atmosphere full of exhaust or polluted gases;
  • avoid crowded public areas during virus or influenza epidemics;
  • increase cough resistance through Asian therapeutic exercises (yoga, tai chi chuan, chi kung): practiced regularly, they stimulate proper breathing, improve posture, relax muscle tension in the shoulders, chest and abdomen, which often accompanies coughing;
  • stimulate the immune system: maintaining a healthy diet (with many products rich in Vitamin C), daily exercise, stress kept under control.

Did you know that…?

  • you can get abdominal muscle fever from too much coughing if you don't have trained muscles?
  • cough is more common in winter and in areas with high air pollution?
  • men are less at risk of developing a chronic cough than women?
  • cough is not just a reflex, because we can cough voluntarily, like when we straighten our voice to get someone's attention?
  • in 2001, former Major Charles Ingram won £ 1 million in the UK's "Do You Want to Be a Millionaire" general competition, becoming the subject of a scandal and lawsuit over coughing? Ingram was accused of cheating, guiding his answers after the cough of his wife and another competitor in the room. The scandal was screened this spring, in the "Quiz" miniseries.
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