Are you trying to find medicine for a cough that won’t make you groggy?
No matter the season, an irritating cough can strike you at any time. Coughing is your body’s way of quickly clearing mucous and other irritants from your lungs and airway. Unfortunately, frequent coughing caused by colds, allergies, or respiratory infections can make you feel miserable.
When the hacking starts, you may reach for over-the-counter medications for coughs, such as syrups, sprays, or tablets. These usually ease the symptoms for a while. If the cough persists, your healthcare provider may diagnose an infection or allergies and recommend a prescription medication.
The Mechanics of Coughing
Your body is a complex organism that has built-in capabilities to protect and heal itself. When dust, pollen, or another foreign substance enters your nose or airway, cells in the lining of your airway trigger the brain to clear the air. Coughing is a reflex that your body can do even while you sleep.
After your brain receives the signals, it will immediately signify your respiratory system to prepare to cough. You will take a deep breath of air, and the opening to your windpipe will close and compress the air in your lungs. Within seconds, your throat will open, and the compressed air will be forcibly expelled from your lungs, creating a coughing sensation.
Another trigger for this cough mechanism is post-nasal drip, which is mucous from your sinuses draining down your throat. It causes an irritation that makes you repeatedly hack throughout the day. Colds, flu, allergies, and sinus infections are notorious for creating bothersome and often painful coughing.
How Does Medicine for a Cough Work?
If you are using over-the-counter medicine for a cough, there are three types available. Those that are labeled as antitussives work to calm your cough reflex. When you have heavy mucous concentration, an expectorant can help loosen it so you can cough it out of your airway.
An antihistamine blocks the allergic reactions that may cause you problems. Lozenges and throat sprays often contain menthol and eucalyptus oils, which are natural therapies for coughing. These are usually preferred throughout the day since most over-the-counter medicine for cough can cause drowsiness. Cough medications may also interact with other medicines you are taking.
Another downside of over-the-counter and prescription medicine for a cough is the rebound effect. Sometimes, you can take so much of the medication that it may make your cough worse. Are there alternatives to getting rid of a nagging cough?
Natural Therapies Better Than Medicine for a Cough
When your ancestors were plagued with coughing fits, they couldn’t run out to the neighborhood pharmacy to pick up a bottle of cough syrup. They relied on Mother Nature to supply the medicine for a cough. Some of these natural remedies have been backed up scientifically and are the precursors to many modern treatments.
Why not do like great-grandma did and reach into your pantry and spice cabinet when you’re having coughing fits? If your hacking persists or you have a respiratory infection, you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Consult them before taking any herbal remedies and mention any medications or supplements you are taking.
For general coughs due to the common cold or allergies, a natural alternative may be better than something from the drug store. Many cough syrups contain alcohol and may not be suitable for you or your children. Here are 14 natural ways you can try to beat your cough so that you can feel better soon.
1. Honey is Naturally Soothing
Since ancient times, honey has been used as a powerful medicine to heal everything from respiratory problems to burns. Studies show that this natural elixir is an antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal solution.
Not only can its sweet consistency soothe your cough, but it may fight the microbes causing it. You can take it by the spoonful or mix it with another healing herb. Medical experts always warn never to give honey to a child who is younger than 12 months old.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
With all the buzz about apple cider vinegar in health news, it’s not surprising to find that it’s also an excellent natural cough remedy. Like honey, apple cider vinegar has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can fight the cause of your cough. It is a mild acid that can clear your throat from excessive mucus.
If you don’t care for the sourness of apple cider vinegar, mix one tablespoon with a tablespoon of honey. Take it every four hours or when your cough is uncontrolled. The mixture of honey and vinegar will give you a double dose of healing.
3. Lemon Juice
You’ve probably studied the benefits of Vitamin C in fighting cold and flu symptoms. Fresh lemon juice has been a perennial remedy for nagging coughs. The citric acid and other ingredients in this juice calm your cough reflex and fight microbes that invade your respiratory system.
There are many ways to incorporate lemon juice into your day when you’re sick. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and use it to make a hot, soothing tea. Instead of apple cider vinegar, you can mix your honey with lemon juice for a useful tonic. Add lemon juice to a cup of herbal tea to drink at bedtime for a restful, cough-free night.
This revered member of the mint family has been used for centuries for respiratory and digestive issues. It’s cool, soothing flavor helps relax coughing spasms and heal your irritated throat and is often used in cough medications. Peppermint lozenges or tea can help open clogged sinuses so you can breathe better.
5. Grab a String of Licorice
Are you a fan of black jellybeans and black licorice rolls? The classic flavor comes from licorice root, an herb long favored for its taste and medicinal qualities. Its earliest uses were to soothe coughs or to use it to make a fragrant tea.
6. Hit the Shower
Persistent coughing often accompanies painful congestion. One of the best ways to open your airways is steam from a hot shower. It breaks up congested sinuses and bronchial tubes for more natural breathing. Plus, the warm water eases the cough and relaxes your entire body.
7. Eucalyptus Isn’t Just for Koalas
Since the eras of the ancient pharaohs, eucalyptus oil has been prized for its unique perfume and medicinal qualities. Eucalyptus has a renowned cooling effect that reduces inflammation and calms irritated nasal and throat passages. Make a eucalyptus tea or add the essential oil to your hot shower water.
In Eastern natural therapies, ginger reigns supreme as a healing herb for all sorts of illnesses. Ancient Chinese herbalists recommended ginger root for patients who had colds or a stubborn cough. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine that hits coughs at their source.
Cut a small piece of ginger root into thin slices and add to a boiled cup of water, and you should allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes. Add a little honey or lemon juice if you like for an extra boost of flavor and cough resistance. Enjoy your ginger tea throughout the day, but don’t drink it before bedtime because it can be an energy boost.
9. Drink More Water
Did you know that your unwanted croup may come from dehydration? If you have a cold or cough, be sure to up your water consumption and have at least 6-8 glasses a day. Freshwater cleanses your body and can dilute build-up mucus that may be causing your problem.
10. Stop Smoking
If you need another reason to stop smoking today, here’s another vital one. When you smoke, you inhale many hazardous materials that damage your respiratory system and entire body. It also produces the tell-tale smoker’s cough.
11. Tea Thyme
Here’s another medicine for a cough that you can find in your herb garden. Thyme is a natural expectorant and antiseptic that can ease your cough and clear your throat. Add fresh or dry thyme leaves to a cup of water and allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes.
12. Lavender Tea
Are you having trouble sleeping because of coughing fits? Brew a steaming cup of lavender tea and enjoy its cough-soothing qualities. The lavender will also calm your nerves and help you go to sleep.