When it comes to a cough, there are different types and causes. Although a cough is generally a good thing, as it expels unwanted stuff from the body, it can be miserable, especially if it is persistent, keeps you up at night, or bothers other people. If you are looking for ways to treat a cough, it is important to pay attention to the cough signs and symptoms, as this often indicates the type of cough it is, which may require different ways to relieve it.
Understanding Your Cough
The first thing is to understand the different types of coughs:
- Wet – This type of cough produces phlegm or mucus. It is often caused by an upper or lower respiratory infection like the common cold, flu, or chest infection.
- Dry – A dry cough does not have accompanying mucus. It often feels like a tickle in the back of the throat, and it sometimes sounds like hacking. This is caused by a respiratory infection or an irritant.
- Wheezing – With a wheezing cough, it is often hard to breathe. This often occurs when there is infection and swelling of the airways or trachea.
- Croup – This cough is usually in young children aged five or younger. It is caused by a viral infection, and it sounds like a barking sound. There is sometimes also rapid breathing involved.
How to Treat Different Coughs
Once you can identify the type of cough it is, it is easier to treat. To relieve a wet cough, it is helpful to thin or break up the mucus so it expels easier. One of the best ways to do this is to stay hydrated and moisten the environment. Water, clear broths, and teas, especially those that contain peppermint, ginger, marshmallow root, or chamomile, are good choices.
Use steam to help loosen the mucus. Draw up a hot bath or take a hot shower and sit in the steam. You can also fill a bowl with hot water and put a towel over your head to trap in the steam. A humidifier is also helpful, especially if you live in a dry environment.
Moisture also helps with dry coughs, as it helps relieve the tickle. Honey, either by itself or stirred with warm water and lemon, also helps with a dry cough.
For a persistent cough, cough suppressant tablets may help tremendously, especially if it is interfering with your day or sleep. Although there are over-the-counter varieties, it is better to look for homeopathic remedies, as they are safe and help speed up recovery.
For a wheezing cough, it is smart to seek medical help. This type of cough can get out of control quickly and lead to more serious issues if not treated properly. Medical treatment should also be sought if:
- The cough lasts for three or more weeks or if it gets worse
- The cough is accompanied by a high fever
- You are having trouble breathing
- You have severe chest pain
- You cough up blood