Cough is a reflex action started by stimulation of sensory nerves in the lining of the respiratory passage. When a person coughs, there is a short intake of breath and the voice box closes momentarily. The abdominal and chest muscles used for breathing contract, which in turn increases the pressure needed to drive air out the lungs when the voice box re-opens. The resulting blast of air comes out at high speed, scrubbing and clearing the airway of dust, dirt or excessive secretions. The cough reflex is a vital part of the body’s defence mechanisms.
Here are some home remedies that will provide relief to your scratchy throat and help to loosen the congestion and drain out the cough.
- Sucking cough drops or boiled sweets will get your throat some respite. The hard sweet in your mouth increases saliva production and causes you to swallow more, suppressing coughs.
- For dry cough, try slippery elm lozenges, usually made from the bark of the slippery elm tree. Slippery elm is loaded with gel-like substance that coats the throat and keeps coughing to minimum.
- Home made syrups are believed to have an immediate effect and help in curing your cough. Blend two tablespoons lemon juice with one tablespoon honey. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper. The honey coats your throat and soothes the irritated tissues, and lemon reduces inflammation and fights the infection with Vitamin C. You can also add freshly grated onion instead of pepper. Onions contain compounds that trigger the cough reflex helping to bring up phlegm.
- If onions suits you, chop around six onions and mix them with four tablespoons of honey. Add the mixture into boiling water. Let it simmer for about two hours. Strain the mixture and take the dose of this mixture every 2-3 hours.
- Blackcurrant is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Apart from helping you to remove the cough, it also soothes your throat.
- Another recipe for a throat soothing syrup is mixing 5-6 cloves with a cup of honey and leave it in a cool place overnight. In the morning, remove the cloves and take a tablespoon of honey. Cloves are believed to ease the painful throat and honey helps in soothing the inflammation.
- Aniseeds or ‘saunf’ helps to loosen the congestion caused by cough. It also expels the mucus and relax the respiratory tract. To soothe the scratchy throat, simmer 2 tablespoons aniseeds in 250ml of water. Boil it in a covered saucepan for about 15 minutes. Strain and add a tablespoon of honey to it. Taking this mixture frequently would provide relief to the throat and quite a persistent cough.
- When it comes to home remedies, Camomile is considered to be a comforting herb. If your sleep is disturbed due to irritation of cough, take camomile tea. You can even add few drops of camomile essential oil in a napkin or kerchief and inhale it.
- Eucalyptus oil is often used to ease the congestion and control coughing. Add few drops of oil in warm water and take a bath. It will ease the body pain. You can even dab the oil on a napkin or kerchief and inhale it when the coughing gets too frequent. Breathe in slowly and feel the fumes break up the congestion and provide relief to your aching throat.
- Thymol seeds or thyme leaves – ‘ajwain’ are good expectorant, which helps to loosen the cough from your throat. It contains substance that relax the respiratory tract. Boil few leaves of thyme and allow it to simmer for five minutes, strain out the herbs, add honey and drink the tea. It is a sure shot way to get relief from painful & scratchy throat.
- Ardent followers of Ayurveda consider spice tea to be the best home remedy for coughs. Add half a teaspoon of powdered or freshly grated ginger and a pinch of clove & cinnamon powder to a cupful of water. Let it boil for five minutes and drink it warm. Use this tea several times a day for good results.
- Steam inhalations are good for both dry and wet coughs. Boil water, add few drops of eucalyptus, oil and inhale the steam. It will soothe your throat, loosen the congestion in the chest and help you to drain out the phlegm easily. Practice this remedy before going to bed for a sound sleep. You can also use other essential oils like lavender (soothing), rosemary (sinuses), or pine (antiseptic).
- Apply chest rub containing menthol or camphor on the chest, back and neck for temporary relief for your painful throat and coughing.
Most coughs clear up within a week or 10 days. But, if you see frequent relapses or if your cough lasts for more than four weeks, visit a doctor. Also, you should be concerned if you cough up green or bloody phlegm. Besides usual viral infection, coughing can be a symptom of serious illnesses like chronic obstructive airways disease or asthma. In many cases, it may also lead to heart failure if it is accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing or swollen ankles. Cough with chest pain and fever is a strong sign of pneumonia.