Cold and flu season brings with it bouts of coughing. Persistent coughs can leave your chest muscles aching, and also make you feel miserable overall.
Coughs which are caused by the common cold typically go away in a couple of days. Others which are more chronic may be caused by asthma, allergies, acid reflux or certain medications. Treatment of these types of coughs should address the underlying problems.
Why Do We Cough?
A cough happens naturally if something bugs your throat or you experience post nasal drip. Coughing also helps you clear your lungs and windpipe. In fact, coughing is the body’s way of removing foreign substances and mucus from the lungs.
Most of the time how to stop coughing can be managed by taking some over the counter medication and cough lozenges.
Types of Coughs
A dry cough produces little to no mucus. It is most often brought on by inflammation or irritation in the throat and chest. The cough may also be accompanied by viral infections or allergies. Because there is no mucus produced, this type of a cough is considered as non-productive.
Most dry coughs occur because the back of the throat becomes irritated. But it can also happen from deeper inside the chest.
Dry coughs that persist after cold symptoms disappear can be the result of other health problems.
In contrast, a wet cough produces mucus. This type of cough can be the result of a respiratory infection, allergies, or a heart condition. This type of cough is also known as a productive cough because it encourages you to cough up mucus that may contain bacteria.
When suffering from a productive cough, the aim is not to stop coughing. This is because it is an important way to clear infected secretions from the lungs. The treatment of productive coughs will depend on its cause and duration.
It is well known that cigarette smoke contains chemicals that irritate the lungs and air passages. When a smoker inhales these substances the body tries to protect itself by coughing. Many smokers suffer from an early morning cough which is the body’s attempt to expel accumulated phlegm from the lungs and trachea.
Smokers also cough a lot because their respiratory airways become narrow. This can trigger a cough when inhaled air gets trapped in the lungs and is unable to be released by exhalation.
This type of coughing can only stop when a person quits their bad habit. Since it is not triggered by viruses or any other reasons, medicines or home remedies will not be able to stop the coughing.
Here Are Some Common Causes Of Coughing:
Trying to stop coughing is the top reason why people go to see a doctor. Because the cough can happen for a number of reasons, you need to find out its cause to treat it correctly.
- Viruses happen to be the most common cause. They can cause dry cough episodes which can be very irritating. These coughs occur at the beginning of an illness or toward the middle or end on an infection. The cough itself may linger longer after other symptoms disappear.
- Allergies and asthma can be another cause of a cough. In these cases, inhaling a trigger like dust, pollen or mold can make the lungs overreact making it very difficult to stop coughing. It is the trigger which makes people cough in these cases. Allergies such as hay fever causes irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. When the throat becomes affected, it can become very hard to stop coughing.
- Irritants can make it hard to stop coughing as well. Even if you are not allergic to anything, things like cold air, strong perfume or cigarette smoke can make you cough. Some people start coughing because they breathe in dry heated air. This type of cough may be more noticeable when the heat is turned on first in the fall. Along with the heat, dust and other irritants get blown into the air causing you to cough.
The worst irritant in the air is smoke. In most cases, chain smokers always develop smoker’s cough.
- Post nasal drip happens when you are congested. The mucus drips down from the nose into the throat, causing you to cough. This type of cough is also known as a wet cough and can happen from colds, flu, sinus infections and allergies. Upper respiratory infections like the cough or postnasal drip can trigger extra secretions to trickle down the throat. This can also cause irritation to the throat leading to a cough.
- Acid reflux can make you cough as well. If you suffer from heartburn, stomach acids back up into the throat. Small amounts of stomach contents enter the upper respiratory tract, causing inflammation and coughing. This happens a lot at night time and can irritate your windpipe, making you cough.
Home Remedies to Stop Coughing
When you drink enough fluids, it helps thin out the mucus in postnasal drip. Drinking liquids can also help keep throat membranes moist and minimize the discomfort of coughing.
Keeping well hydrated can also be very helpful in stopping a cough during winter when indoor air is dry.
One type of cough is known as dry cough. This can usually happen with a cold or flu or if you breathe in an irritant like smoke or dust. Suppressants such as lozenges can help you to stop coughing and find some relief.
A menthol cough drop can help to numb the back of the throat. This numbing action can assist in decreasing the cough reflex, and help you to stop coughing. Cough drops or even hard candy are good for managing a dry cough.
Drink Warm Beverages to Stop Coughing
Drinking warm tea with honey can also soothe the throat. Sipping on warm drinks during the day will keep the throat moist and comfortable. These can include warm tea and chicken soup to heat up the air ways. These drinks can hydrate well while their heat can break up mucus making it easier to cough up.
Only drink water or beverages that are alcohol and caffeine free. This is because alcohol and caffeine both have a dehydrating effect. If you feel that orange juice and citrus drinks bother your throat, stay away from those as well.
Hot Shower or Steam
If a raw, dry throat makes it hard to stop coughing, then moisture may help. The steam from the shower prevents the nose and throat from becoming too dry. It also works to get rid of the throat tickle that can be very bothersome.
A hot shower can relieve cough by loosening secretions in the nose. The moisture can also ease breathing when it loosens the mucus. This strategy can not only stop coughs from cold but also those that happen due to allergies.
You can also inhale steam when dealing with a cough and congestion. Steam helps to loosen the phlegm and mucus immediately and can help you stop coughing.
Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers can help regulate indoor air moisture levels. When indoor air is too dry, nasal secretions can also become dry. This can create an uncomfortable sensation in the throat. With a help of a humidifier, you can replace some of the moisture back in the air. This can help you to stop coughing.
However, when using a humidifier, try not to overdo it by making the air too moist. Plus, you will also need to be careful to keep the humidifier filter clean at all times. A dirty filter can become a breeding ground for pumping out mold and fungus in to the air.
Remove Irritants from the Air
Some people are highly prone to sinus irritations from objects like bathroom scents or perfumes. Sinus issues like these can produce excess mucus that can cause chronic cough.
Decongestants work by relieving nasal congestion. This is helpful because they work on shrinking swollen nasal tissue and reducing mucus production. Decongestants also dry up mucus in the lungs and open up air way passages.
Decongestants ae available in a variety of products. They can be purchased as liquids, pills or nasal sprays. But you have to be careful when using decongestants since overuse can cause excessive dryness in the throat.
To stop coughing, you can consider using cough suppressants. This is especially helpful if the cough makes your chest hurt and prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. Suppressants lessen the urge to cough and work best for a dry cough.
Try not to suppress a productive cough unless it keeps you awake at night. Coughing is beneficial as it extracts mucus from the lungs and prevents bacterial infections. As such, people who suffer from asthma or lung diseases need to cough.
Dry cough is only one type of cough. The other type is known as wet cough where you cough up a lot of mucus. To stop coughing, try to calm your wet cough by using an expectorant.
An expectorant is a product that thins out mucus so that it becomes easier to cough it out. Expectorants should be used when the cough is thick with phlegm or you have difficulty coughing up thick mucus. When suffering from this problem, you can also try to drink a lot of fluids to thin out the mucus.
Get Plenty of Rest
Any of these tips to stop coughing will only work when you also get plenty of rest. It goes without saying that if you want to get rid of your cough, you need to take it easy. As you suffer from the virus, your body needs extra energy to fight it off. If you do not get adequate rest, you will only exhaust the body and stress yourself out.
This can make your cough or throat irritation last longer.
Honey to the Rescue
Honey can help you to stop coughing better than many medications. It is a natural demulcent that has a high viscosity and stickiness effective in coating the throat. Once the throat membranes are coated, they can lessen the associated irritation. Honey also has anti-bacterial properties that can shorten the duration of the cough.
Honey may be taken on its own to stop you from coughing or it can be added in teas and other concoctions to find relief from coughing.
You can take 1 tablespoon of raw, organic honey a couple of times daily to treat your cough.
Homemade Honey Drops
Another way to use honey to stop coughing is to make homemade honey cough drops. Simply take 3/4 cups of honey and place in a small pan over low/ medium heat. Bring to low boil, until it reaches 300 degrees. Take care to remove it promptly as honey can burn easily.
Take a piece of parchment paper and pour teaspoon sized drops of honey on it. Place drops apart from each other. Leave drops to cool and harden completely. When cool, wrap individually and store in an air tight container. Use as needed.
Honey cough drops can last between 3-4 weeks.
Licorice Root Tea
Like honey, licorice root tea is also a demulcent. It also possesses expectorant features that can soothe the airways when loosening and thinning the mucus. Plus, licorice root tea can ease inflammation which may be causing your throat to hurt. To make a tea, you will need:
- 2 tablespoons dried licorice root
- 1 cup water
Boil water and add the licorice root to it. Let steep for 10-12 minutes and drink warm to stop coughing.
Salt Water Gargle
An age old remedy, salt water can treat many throat conditions including a sore throat and cough. If you are trying to stop coughing, use a salt water gargle to ease the discomfort of the condition. A cough that comes with inflammation can be treated using this remedy. Plus, the gargle will also help dislodge any phlegm that may be causing throat irritation.
You will need
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water
Add salt directly to warm water and stir until dissolved. Gargle with this mixture to seek relief from your cough.
Brew a Thyme Tea
Thyme helps relax the muscles in the throat and can open up congested air ways. To prepare the tea, you will need:
- 2 tablespoons fresh or dried thyme sprigs
- 1 cup water
- lemon or honey
Lightly crush fresh thyme, or used the dried variety. Place crushed thyme in cup and pour in a mug of boiling water. Cover and steep the tea for 15 minutes. Add in some lemon or honey for flavor and stir. Drink his tea warm to seek relief from coughing.
Black Pepper and Honey
Black pepper makes a useful cough remedy for treating mucus and congestion. When honey is added in to the equation, more antibacterial features are included and the taste improved. You can make a black pepper and honey tea to stop coughing. You will need:
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup warm water
Place honey and pepper in a mug and cover with boiling water. Stir well to mix all ingredients and drink warm.
To make a honey black pepper syrup, take one tablespoon of honey and sprinkle a pinch of pepper flakes onto it. Mix together and take by spoonful.
Peppermint Ginger Syrup to Stop Coughing
Ginger has a warming effect while peppermint has a cooling one. Together these two ingredients can be mixed to prepare a homemade cough syrup.
Ginger acts as an expectorant to loosen and expel mucus and stop the annoying tickle at the back of the throat. The menthol in peppermint soothes the throat and acts as a decongestant. It also helps in smoothing the irritating tickle of a cough. To make the syrup, use the following ingredients:
- 3 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon dried peppermint
- 4 cups water
- 1 cuphoney
Chop ginger and add to pot. Throw in peppermint as well. Add water and bring to boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and continue cooking until the liquid has been reduced to half. Strain and cool slightly. At this point, add in honey and stir until dissolved. Bottle the mixture and use 1 tablespoon as needed. The mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Bromelain to Stop Coughing
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that can help suppress coughs and loosen mucus lodged in the throat. To prepare a pineapple cough syrup, use the following ingredients:
- 2 slices fresh pineapple- peeled
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 inch piece of ginger- roughly chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
Cube pineapple slices and place in blender with all other ingredients. Blend the mixture until smooth. Strain mixture through a mesh strainer to get a smoother syrup. Take 1 tablespoon as needed and keep the rest refrigerated for future use.
Garlic Honey Home Remedy
Garlic is a powerful immune booster. It is very effective in combating viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Honey also has these healing properties. So a combination of the two ingredients is very potent in fighting sore throats, coughs and colds.
To stop coughing, make this remedy with:
- 3 heads of garlic, separated into cloves
- Raw honey to fill a jar
Place garlic cloves in jar and pour honey over them. Allow this mixture to infuse for a few weeks before using. The stored mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for about a year.
When you feel a tickle in your throat, take a clove and chew on it. After being infused in the honey for so long, the garlic cloves become very palatable and tasty. As the honey coats your throat, the garlic gets to work on the inflammation and irritation.
Apple Cider Vinegar Cough Remedy
The best way to take apple cider to stop coughing is to take it with honey. You can do this by mixing 2 tablespoons each of cider and honey in 6 ounces of hot water. Drink this vinegar tea as needed to soothe your cough. Adding in a pinch of cinnamon or cayenne pepper can add more healing potential to your tea.
Or, you can try a spicy honey cider syrup to stop coughing. This concoction helps calm a cough and soothe a sore throat.
To make this remedy you will need:
- 2 tablespoons ACV
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 or less tablespoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
Place the above ingredients in jar and shake well to combine. Leave at room temperature and shake well before each use. You can also put the jar in the refrigerator for longer storage.
Take one teaspoons as needed.
Onion Honey Cough Syrup
While honey may be a well-known remedy to stop coughing, onion may not be so. But onions do have many health benefits to offers and they have anti-inflammatory potential.
So when onion and honey are combined, you can get a very effective home remedy to treat your cough. Here is what you need to make this concoction:
- 1 small onion- diced
Place diced onion in a glass jar. Pour in sufficient honey to just coat the onion pieces. Cover and leave overnight.
By the time this remedy is ready to be used, the onions will have secreted a juice which will have combined with the honey in the jar. Take 1-2 tablespoons of this concoction to manage your coughing.
Keep the jar refrigerated and make fresh syrup every few days.
When to Call a Doctor
If you cannot stop coughing for a few weeks, it is time to get in touch with your doctor. Ask for professional help in the following scenarios:
- There is lot of mucus with a deep cough.
- You cough up bloody mucus.
- You cough up green or yellow mucus.
- You experience wheezing, shortness of breath or have a tight chest.
- There is accompanying fever that does not go away for 3 days.
- You feel excessively tired or lethargic.
- You experience nighttime coughing fits and chills.
- You notice unexplained weight loss.