Not all coughing are the same; even just the sound can tell you much about a cough and the suitable course of treatment. There are what we call productive or a phlegmatic cough, and then there is the more common dry cough. Bacterial and viral infections usually cause a phlegmatic cough; and this can be treated with antibiotics and/or dispelling the phlegm as much as possible. Indeed in productive coughs, there is a feeling of relief once the mucus and phlegm have been spat out.
A dry cough, however, offers no such relief. It can get even more uncomfortable than a productive cough. Everyone may have been familiar with the feeling of having extremely scratchy throat due to coughing, so our throat reflexes will urge us to cough. However, this only makes things worse, resulting to endless fits of dry coughing. And unlike productive coughs wherein the causes are easily treatable with antibiotics, there is a multitude of causes for a dry cough. It can be asthma attacks which occur from time to time, allergic response, intrusion of foreign material in the lungs such as food or water, and even bacteria such as pertussis or whooping cough.
Since there is no mucus or phlegm produced, dry cough can cause abrasions and further scratches in the throat and pharyngeal area. Thus in dealing with a dry cough, it is important to address the dryness of the throat and soothe the scratchy feeling. Providing humidity to prevent dryness of the mucous linings is also helpful, as well as drinking antibacterials in the case of bacterial-caused dry coughs.
Dealing with a dry cough seems more challenging, but there are a number of ways to relieve this condition, and all these are available in the comforts of our home. Here are different ways to treat a dry cough using home remedies.
If your not experiencing a dry cough you might want to check out this general article: How to get rid of a cough
Mint or eucalyptus gargle
Peppermint and eucalyptus have cooling effects. A degree of coldness can soothe the scratchy feeling by numbing the itch reaction in the surrounding nerves. It may also soothe the contractions of throat muscles if the cause of a dry cough is anti-peristalsis reflex (gagging reflex when food or water enters the airways). All this sounds technical, and that’s because this remedy works like a charm.
How to prepare
You can use either mint leaves or eucalyptus leaves for this. Roughly chop the leaves to get the essence much easier. Let it boil for about 5 minutes. Take out the leaves by straining the mixture; the resulting liquid can then be used for gargling. It can soothe the dry scratchy feeling if the liquid is cooled or refrigerated to even amplify the cooling effects of the mint or eucalyptus. Use the gargle as often as you like, or when the cough triggers.
Peppermint or eucalyptus steam inhalant
One of the causes of a dry cough is asthma, and asthma attacks are often relieved through inhalants and nebulizers. This preparation using mint and eucalyptus works the same way. The only disadvantage is that it is not as portable as asthma inhalers. The steam with the mint and eucalyptus essence can soothe the nasal and oropharyngeal passages and trigger the mucous linings to produce healthy lubrication in them. Normally our mucous linings produce mucus to lubricate our airways and to serve as protection. When these are dry due to weather, such as what happened during winter, it may result to desiccation in the mucous linings thus triggering the asthma attacks.
How to Prepare:
This remedy works better using eucalyptus oil or peppermint essence. But in case these are not available, substituting with a cup of the leaves is acceptable. For one preparation, boil two cups of water and stir in a tablespoon of the eucalyptus or peppermint oil. Let the oils boil infuse with the boiling water until you can smell the essence in the rising steam. Take out the liquid from the fire. Inhale the rising steam at least half a meter above the pan to make the heat more tolerable. This is good to soothe irritation and to humidify the nasal passages.
Ginger Peppermint Honey Syrup
It is a little difficult to explain how two substances with very different qualities work together to achieve the same result, so it’s better if you just try this to soothe your dry cough. Ginger is known to have that mild spice and pungency, while peppermint has cooling effects. Despite their opposite natures, mixing ginger and peppermint together can result to a wonderful, natural, and cheap cough syrup. Adding in the honey makes this syrup yummy and also more potent. The expectorant action of the ginger and the cooling effect of the peppermint relieve the tickle or the scratchiness of the throat, while honey has antimicrobial properties to kill off infection. Honey and ginger can also work together to dispel mucus. Thus, this syrup is not just useful for dry coughs, but even for productive coughs.
How to Prepare:
You would need 3 tablespoons of chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon of chopped dried peppermint, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of honey. Add the ginger, peppermint, and water together in a cooking pan and bring to a slow boil to extract the essence of ginger and peppermint. Once the mixture boils, lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes until the water is about half. Strain away the leaves and undissolved ginger bits. Let the water cool down and add in the honey. Stir in the honey until it is completely incorporated and the syrup is thick enough. You can put the mixture in a clean bottle or jar and take in as regular cough syrup a couple of times throughout the day. Keep the syrup refrigerated. This has a shelf life of about three weeks.
Licorice root and Thyme tea
Licorice root is not just the source of yummy licorice sticks or candy, but it can be an effective relief for a dry cough too. Licorice root acts both as an expectorant and demulcent. Expectorants act in a way that they ‘expel’ material from the lungs. Demulcents, on the other hand, work by relieving inflammation.
Meanwhile, thyme works as an antimicrobial. But it also has effects of opening up the airways and relaxing the muscles of the trachea and bronchi, resulting to decreased coughing fits. Mixing these two together in a delicious tea can be very effective against a dry cough. The pungency of thyme as a herb complements the sweetness of licorice root making it a very palatable concoction even for children.
How to Prepare:
You can use either fresh thyme sprigs roughly chopped, or those readily-available dried thyme spices. For the licorice root, use two tablespoons of dried and chopped licorice root. With a mortar and pestle, pound the thyme and licorice root together for a few seconds. Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture in a mug and add hot water. Let the leaves steep in for about 10-15 minutes. Strain out or take out the leaves and drink the tea as often as you like. You may also add a squeeze of lemon juice to make the tea even tastier.
With these home remedies, relieve yourself or your loved ones of the pains and discomforts of a dry cough. Try any of these concoctions and be amazed how natural remedies can work wonders.