How can you tell if you have a wet cough?
A wet cough is one of the first symptoms that indicate an issue with the respiratory tract. Also known medically as a productive cough, it is characterized by excessive mucus that is often expelled in the form of gooey phlegm. Some of the health issues that are diagnosed through the presence of a wet cough include:
- Pneumonia (inflammation of the upper or the lower respiratory tract)
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer (often characterized by bloody phlegm)
In most cases, a wet cough is often accompanied by the presence of some other symptom of an infection. The most common among these symptoms is a high fever. People suffering from the flu or from a cold or a hay fever may also have wet coughs.
Coughing is a normal body reflex that serves to clear the air passages that make up the entire respiratory tract. Note that the tract is lined with millions of nerve endings. Once an irritant penetrates any part of the air passages, the body automatically tries to minimize its negative effects by producing mucus. This then causes a blockage in the airways, which prompts the nerve endings to send signals to the brain.
These signals trigger the brain’s so-called cough center, which then triggers the cough reflex. According to scientists, the cough reflex starts by the hardening of the epiglottis. This then temporarily closes the larynx off. The abdominal muscles then contract, which puts pressure on the airways. This pressure causes the epiglottis to relax, which also opens the larynx back up. Air would then burst forth from the lungs in short spurts.
In most cases, the cough reflex is effective in dislodging whatever irritant may be blocking the airways. However, there are cases wherein the irritant lodges itself so deeply that the body has to produce more mucus to try to combat it. This means that the cough also develops into a full-blown wet cough.
Natural Overnight Remedies for Wet Cough
There are numerous cough medications that can be used for treating either wet or dry cough. The thing about these medications is that the shortest time that they can effectively cure a wet cough is about 3-5 days. More often than not, these medications have to be taken for a full 7 days. That is because they need that amount of time to completely erase all traces of the irritant in the body.
Those who want overnight relief from a wet cough can try any of the proven natural remedies. One of the most effective natural remedies is lemon juice mixture. The mixture requires two other natural ingredients: peppermint and honey. This combination is effective in dislodging the mucus so that it can be expelled by the body.
Lemon juice also contains high levels of Vitamin C, which the body needs for boosting up its immunity. Once the immune system has received the necessary boost of vitamin C and other nutrients, it could then create natural antibodies. These antibodies not only work to stop the mucus buildup, it also goes directly to the source of the infection and fights it until it is completely eliminated.
Aside from peppermint and honey, other options that can be added to the mixture include:
- Cayenne pepper
- Grated onions
The best way to prepare the lemon juice mixture is to heat it up first. You can then take it just like any other type of medication by swallowing a tablespoon every few hours. However, unlike cough medication that is made out of synthetic ingredients, this natural remedy can be taken for however long the individual wants to take it. Synthetic drugs often have harmful side effects when taken in excess.
One of the risks of taking excess cough medication is addiction. Some people also tend to develop immunity against the medication especially if they have been taking it for longer or shorter than the recommended period and dosage. Contrary to this, natural remedies are not addictive and people don’t have to keep a close eye on the dosage and length of intake.
Another natural remedy that you can use for beating a wet cough is ginger tea. Naturally, the main ingredient for this tea is ginger. Most homemade recipes make use of fresh ginger root that’s either crushed or grated. But those who don’t want to go to all the trouble of crushing or grating can also make use of ground ginger. These are often sold at various herbal shops and are well-preserved with natural ingredients so they don’t go stale for months.
A few other natural ingredients to add to the ginger tea include:
- Maple syrup
Any of these options ingredients not only help to cure the wet cough, they also serve to sweeten the brew. These are the more natural options to white or brown processed sugar.
In order to make the ginger tea more effective, you can also add:
- Lemon juice
- Cinnamon powder
The brew can be prepared by simply placing all the ingredients in a cup and adding some hot water over it. Stir the mixture and let it steep for a few minutes. Be sure to consume it while it is still warm because that’s when the brew works its magic best. Ginger contains a compound known as oleoresin, a compound that is present in many other medicinal herbs. Oleoresin is the primary reason why ginger can effectively suppress coughing after just a few hours of consuming the tea.
Other Options for Treating a Wet Cough Overnight
Aside from herbal remedies, experts also have a few other tips in regard to suppressing a wet cough. These tips include:
- Elevate the head when sleeping. This effectively keeps the mucus from blocking the airways, thereby suppressing the cough reflex. This is especially useful because it keeps the cough from disrupting a good night’s sleep. As everyone knows, sufficient sleep is also one of the best remedies for any illness.
- Use some steam. This is one of the oldest cough suppressants in history. It is also the cheapest since all you need is a bowl and some hot steaming water. The best way to inhale the steam thoroughly is by placing a blanket or a towel over the head. Just make sure that it is big enough to cover the bowl of hot water as well. In lieu of the bowl, you can also just indulge in a steam bath.
Having enough knowledge about natural remedies for a wet cough is invaluable especially during the cold season. However, aside from knowledge of remedies, it is also necessary that people keep prevention foremost on their minds. This is especially true if they have young kids whose immune systems are still not developed enough to fight against infections. There are a few tips that can help keep your family safe from wet coughs, which include:
- Frequent hand washing.
- Keeping the family away from people who are suffering from the flu.
- Quit smoking. This also includes avoiding people who smoke since second-hand smoke is a more potent lung irritant.
- Make sure every member of the family has had their flu shots before the cold season starts.
As the saying goes, prevention is always so much better than cure. Even if the cures are composed of all-natural ingredients that also contain nutrients that add to the body’s immune defenses.