Coughing, believe it or not, is actually beneficial. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s your body’s mechanism of cleaning your airways in response to an allergen. A cough, on the other hand, can keep you awake all night and make you miserable — and it can feel like it’ll never go away.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of a cough, the good news is that most coughs will go away without therapy. Meanwhile, Stephen Russell, MD, a physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham school of medicine and an expert in upper respiratory infections, believes there are various natural cough cures with proven advantages.
Here is Russell’s coughing attack prevention advice and some of his favourite cough home treatments, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen or medical closet.
Have Some Honey — It’s a Natural Cough Suppressant
You’re in luck if you like the flavour of honey. Dr. Russell believes that “hot liquids with honey can calm and alleviate coughs for brief periods of time.” To taste, add honey and lemon to plain hot water or your favourite hot tea (the lemon is just for flavor).
Another low-cost cough home treatment with proven advantages is honey straight off the spoon. In a study published in the journal Pediatric Clinics of North America, children aged 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections resulting in cough were given up to 2 teaspoons of honey before bedtime. Honey not only helped with coughing at night, but it also helped with sleep. Honey was found to have minor effects in reducing nocturnal cough in children ages 2–18 in another study published in JAMA Pediatrics. According to Russell, honeyshould never be given to children under the age of one because it can induce infant botulism in rare situations.
Suck on Lozenges or Hard Candy to Help Stimulate Saliva
According to Russell, lozenges and hard sweets stimulate saliva or enhance secretions in the mouth, which can aid in relieving coughing. He says that this is particularly effective as a dry cough treatment. According to Russell, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support herbal lozenges containing zinc, vitamin C, or echinacea, but they may have minor benefits—even if it’s only a placebo effect—and none of them are hazardous.
Drink Fluids for Hydration and to Boost Your Immune System
According to Russell, drinking fluids of all types, especially warm ones like hot water, chicken soup, and tea, is another effective home cure for a cough. He continues, “Many people who have a cough tend to become dehydrated.” Fluids, he says, assist your immune system in fighting off the source of the infection or virus that may be causing your cough, as well as relieving the sore throat that is typical with coughs.
Gargling May Make Your Cough Go Away Faster
Do you have any table salt on hand? Gargle with it after adding some to warm water. According to a tiny piece of research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, simple water gargling tended to reduce the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (aka the common cold) and even prevent infections from occurring in the first place. In a pilot study published in January 2019 in Scientific Reports, gargling with warm salt water (combined with nasal irrigation) was also demonstrated to have some effects on alleviating cold symptoms and lowering the duration of symptoms like cough.
Use a Humidifier or Take a Steamy Shower to Ease Congestion
If you’ve ever experienced your cough or congestion easing when you relax in a hot bath or shower, you know the benefits of humidity for easing cold symptoms. Taking a steamy shower or using a cool mist humidifier can help you make this simple cough treatment at home. According to the Mayo Clinic, humidifiers add moisture to the air, and cool-mist humidifiers may help relieve coughing and congestion caused by a cold. Make sure to keep your humidifier clean and avoid fostering bacteria and mould. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cut Up an Onion to Relieve Your Cough (or So People Say)
Many people start crying as soon as they start slicing an onion. While there isn’t any research to back it up, some individuals swear that cutting an onion releases a strong vapour that helps soothe coughs, according to Russell. Cut an onion into quarters and place it on a plate on your bedside table or at the foot of the bed before going to bed. Although it may appear to be an old wives’ tale, Russell claims that it is fairly popular in Spain and France.
Use Over-the-Counter Cough Medicine if Nothing Else Works
Read the labels first if you’ve tried various cough medicines and are considering the cough and cold products in your medical cabinet. Studies have revealed that dextromethorphan may be marginally superior to placebo in terms of cough relief, Russell explains. He adds that products containing pseudoephedrine can help reduce postnasal drip caused by a virus or allergies, as well as cough.However, these drugs have several drawbacks: According to Russell, dextromethorphan is not safe for children under the age of five, and pseudoephedrine raises blood pressure and heart rate.
Cough treatments for the night, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), usually contain an antihistamine that makes you sleepy while also helping to stop your cough.
For people over the age of 65, Benadryl may cause side effects such as a loss of stability in the middle of the night. Russell suggests that you attempt natural therapies first before turning to cough drugs, and then continue with caution.