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Bad Cough

We all have experienced bad cough at point of time or the other and you will agree with me that it is an annoying problem. Read this article to know about the causes and treatment for this health problem.
A bad cough can be described as a severe cough that refuses to go. Coughing is an instinctive action where the body tries to expel any unwanted foreign material like mucus from the lungs and clear up the air passage. When it is accompanied by production of mucus in the lung, then it is referred to as productive cough. If there is no mucus and it is a dry cough, then it is termed as a non-productive cough. People of any age group including infants, small children and elderly can get cough. A bad cough releases air, secretions and irritants repeatedly with intense force. This causes contraction of the thoracic cavity several times which in turn gives us a lot of pain.

Causes

A bad cough for 2 weeks or less is often categorized as a acute cough. On the other hand, if it persists longer for up to 8 weeks or more, then it is a chronic cough. One of the most common causes is severe upper respiratory infection. Virus that causes common cold and influenza is mostly responsible for it. Infections of the lower respiratory tract such as pneumonia and bronchitis can trigger this kind of cough. Infants and small children tend to get affected by whooping cough (also known as pertussis). It is a bacterial infection that attack the inner lining of the air passage. Allergic rhinitis may cause nasal congestion, sore throat along with a bad cough. Gastro-esophageal reflux disease causes a bad cough due to back flow of stomach acids into the esophagus. Other factors responsible are post nasal drip, asthma, tuberculosis, pollution, smoking, side effects of medicine and so on.

Remedies

A persistent cough causes us a lot of discomfort. When it is bothering you too much you can try out the following home remedies to get some relief:

Gargle with Saline Water: To prepare the salt and water solution, mix one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Gargling with this solution will ease off the tickling sensation of the sore throat. When a bad cough at night is troubling you, then gargle just before retiring for the day and I am sure you will catch up with some good sleep.

Inhale Steam: When the nasal passage and the soft tissues of the throat turns dry, then it triggers a cough. Inhalation of steam moisten up these tissues and controls the instinct of a cough. The heat of the vapor helps in thinning up of the mucous and ensure faster elimination. You can use a vaporizer for inhaling steam. Or else, take some hot water in a bowl, cover up your head with a towel and breathe in the steam.

Almonds: Soak a handful of almonds in water for few hours. Then take out the skin of the almonds. Put them in a blender and add some butter and sugar to it. Blend these ingredients to get a smooth paste. Have this paste twice a day for best results.

Black Pepper: Black pepper powder has an amazing effect on a bad cough. Cut a lemon into two halves. Take one half of the lemon and sprinkle some black pepper powder on it and a pinch of salt on it. Now, suck this lemon slowly. Some of you may not like the taste but it can reduce the intensity of the cough to a great extent.

Honey: Take a cup of hot water and add some honey to it. Take this warm drink in small sips for a soothing relief from sore throat. Honey will form a thin coat on the lining of the throat and decrease irritation. Instead of warm water, you can prepare a tea and add honey to it.

Treatment

When the cough refuses to go with home remedies or it persists for more than 2 weeks, then it is time to visit a doctor. Cough suppressants are widely used for treating dry cough as it checks the instinct of coughing. Cough expectorants are good for a productive cough. These medicines can be safely given to small children as well. Then there are cough drops or lozenges that can relieve a dry hacking cough. A bad cough while pregnant should be treated with great caution. Some of the cough medicines may have adverse side effects. So, pregnant women should inform the doctor about pregnancy so that they can prescribe suitable medicines accordingly. Antibiotics are used for treating pneumonia. For whooping cough in children, antibiotics are prescribed to fight the infection and oral corticosteroid is used to reduce inflammation. Medicines like bronchodilators are used for treating cough in asthma patients. When severe cough is caused by some underlying health condition, then it has to be treated to get rid of the cough.

To obtain faster relief, you have to keep your body properly hydrated. Drink 8-10 glasses of water. This will prevent dryness of the mucous membrane. When the mucous membrane is wet, it will stop throat the irritation that induces a cough. Avoid exposure to smoke and other irritants that can trigger a throat irritation to cure a bad cough.
By Bidisha Mukherjee
Published: 1/27/2011
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