Coughing is your body’s normal response to the presence of microorganisms, small particles or mucus in your airways, or any object that might have accidentally gone down your windpipe. But often, a cough follows a flu infection or a common cold.
Why? Experts agree that there is no definitive answer why you may experience a cough after suffering from a common cold. But here are two possible causes.
The Release of Pro-Inflammatory Molecules
When your body senses that there are viruses attacking your nasal lining and airway, it automatically releases pro-inflammatory molecules, which may also cause you to experience a sore throat. These include leukotrienes, tachykinins, and bradykinins. Coughing occurs as a side effect when these molecules fight off infection.
Production of Mucus
Did you know that mucus is constantly produced by your mucus membranes in minimal amounts around your body? Your throat, mouth, nose, lungs and sinuses have these membranes to protect your airways. Mucus traps viruses, allergens, and dust.
The mucus is less noticeable when you are healthy. But when you are sick, it becomes thick because your body produces mucus in huge amounts to trap the flu viruses. As a result, it stimulates the nerve receptors and endings in your airways, causing you to cough.
Cough can negatively affect your productivity and mood. The good news is that you do not have to tolerate frequent coughing until it subsides on its own. There are a couple of ways to expel the phlegm that causes you to cough, aside from boosting your immune system with essential vitamins and minerals.
1. Drinking warm liquids
Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking warm liquids, especially water, because this helps ease the flow of mucus. In return, the fluids loosen your chest congestion.
Adding lemon and honey to warm water or tea is also a good option because these substances can soothe a cough. Drink it as often as you want.
2. Gargling with salt water
Mucus hanging on the back of your throat can be eliminated by gargling with salt water. In fact, this may even soothe a sore throat and kill viruses causing your cough and colds.
All you have to do is to mix a half teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water. Gargle this solution for several seconds before spitting it out. Repeat this as necessary.
3. Using eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus can effectively loosen the mucus in your airways so you can easily cough it out. You may choose to spread a eucalyptus balm over your back and chest area or inhale it by using a diffuser.
4. Placing onions at your bedside
The minute you start chopping onions, you cry, right? The strong vapor it produces when you slice onions can actually help stop your cough.
Cut an onion into four pieces, place them on a plate, and leave this at your bedside. This might appear funny, but this practice is popular in France and Spain. People who did this claimed this helps relieve coughs at night, allowing you to have a good night’s sleep.
5. Humidifying the air
Humidity plays a crucial role in easing cough because humid air breaks up chest congestion and reduces irritation. Thus, you may have noticed that you don’t cough during a steamy bath or hot shower.
But this does not mean that you must always stay at the bathroom with the hot shower on. Instead, use a humidifier. And always make sure that it is free of molds before using it; otherwise, a new round of coughing will be triggered.
6. Taking cough syrup
Cough syrup is considered an expectorant, meaning that it will help you cough out the mucus by making it thin and loose. Mucosolvan cough syrup, for instance, works in three ways: It loosens your mucus, clears your airways, and prevents new mucus production. Expectorants like this are usually the best solution since they are effective for up to 12 hours.
As with any medication, exercise proper caution in using over-the-counter cough medicines like decongestants and expectorants. Make sure that you are taking the right dosage by checking its instructions either on its label or its package leaflet. If unsure, you have to consult a pharmacist or your doctor.
Seeing your doctor is also highly recommended when coughing does not stop after two weeks, despite doing all the above-mentioned remedies. Bear in mind as well that you should make an appointment with your doctor if your coughing is accompanied by wheezing, difficulty or shortness of breath, chest pain, and blood.