Because nobody has time to be up all night hacking.
Coughing just sucks. Whether it’s a repetitive, dry barking cough or a deep, wet hacking, coughs are one of the worst symptoms of being sick.
Unfortunately, antibiotics won't treat coughs themselves, but there's still plenty you can do to make yourself cough less, and make your coughing less painful. “Many coughs simply take time to go away," says Cindy Uypitching, MD, a family medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Canyon Country Medical Offices in Santa Clarita, California. "Most doctors will suggest you try natural home remedies for your cough first, and there are several that can help make you more comfortable when you're sick."
But before you can deal with your cough, it's important to understand what's causing it and how serious it is:
What actually causes coughing?
Coughing can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common culprits are bacterial and viral illnesses (like pneumonia, influenza, or a cold), allergies, a runny nose, heartburn, and asthma, Dr. Uypitching says. Often coughing is worse at night, usually due to the position you’re in, as lying down can lead to more congestion and worsen heartburn. Sleeping with your head raised up by pillows can help, as can trying one of the natural remedies ahead right before bed.
What's the difference between a dry cough and wet cough?
A dry cough is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and might be in reaction to a dry, itchy, scratchy throat or other irritation. A wet cough, meaning one that brings up mucus or other fluids, is typically caused by a virus like the cold or flu. Viruses can last up to a month—much longer than many people think, Dr. Uypitching says.
What should I do if my cough just isn't going away?
If your cough doesn’t go away after three to four weeks, becomes chronic, or recurs under certain circumstances, then it’s time to go in and get it checked out, Dr. Uypitching says. It may have progressed to a more serious infection or it may indicate you have reflux, allergies, or asthma, all of which can and should be treated by a doctor. Contact your doctor right away if you have other symptoms that are worsening, like a fever, chest pain, or shortness of breath, she adds.
Let's get into the at-home solutions you're dying for. But before your use any natural cough remedies that involve herbs, check with your doctor about how they may interact with any medications you're on, Dr. Uypitching says. And remember, natural remedies are meant to supplement any meds you're doctor has given you and shouldn't be used in place of any traditional treatment your doctor recommends when you're sick.
Hopefully, these 12 natural cough remedies make your cough less of a nuisance and make it easier for your to rest up and feel better.