Is a cough making your life miserable? Don’t blame your body; coughing is the only way your lungs can expel an irritant. The key is to figure what’s causing it and then to get your lungs the help they need.
A cough that appears suddenly is usually triggered by an infectious disease, such as cold or flu.
“A majority of coughs actually resolve with just rest and home remedies,” said Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, an internist at the Emory Clinic in Atlanta. “So that’s the place to start unless there are warning signs of something more serious.”
Red flags include coughing up blood-tinged phlegm, a great deal of phlegm or phlegm that is turning thicker and darker; fever; shortness of breath; and wheezing.
“Those are all signs that the cause more likely to be a bacterial than viral infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, or perhaps an underlying medical condition,” Bergquist said. “But without those signs, it’s usually OK to try home remedies for a few days.”
Home remedies for cough
Staying hydrated is the best thing you can do for a cough. Liquids thin out the mucus, making it less irritating to the throat and easier for the lungs to expel. Steam from a hot shower can do the same. Saline or salt water drops or spray are another option to moisten the nasal passages and thin mucus.
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