Don`t ignore a cough too long in the hope that it will go away. You never know what could be behind it - something as simple as dust or something as serious as Tubercolosis. And you don`t want to be the last one to find out. The most common cause of chronic, or ongoing, cough is inhaling tobacco smoke, whether primary or secondhand. The most common causes among nonsmokers are allergies, asthma, post-nasal drip, gastro-oesophageal reflux (caused by stomach acid backing up into your throat), or inflamed sinuses.
Tuberculosis and lung cancer also cause coughing, and congestive heart failure has night-time coughing as a symptom.
Yellowish, green, or brown sputum suggests a bacterial infection. Clear, white, or watery sputum may show a virus, allergy, or irritant is present. Yellow sputum can also appear after a viral infection.
The following conditions or habits may have coughing as a symptom:
- Allergies or inhaling environmental irritants
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Common cold, flu, or other upper respiratory disorder
- Cystic fibrosis
- Foreign body in airways
- Lung tumours or cancer
- Pleurisy (an inflammatory lung condition) and/or pneumonia
- Whooping cough
Your treatment options include:
- Antibiotics for bacterial infections
- Antihistamines or nasal steroids for allergic post-nasal drip
- Broncho-dilators for asthma
- Treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux
- Naturopathy: A natural cure. Try soaking onion slices in honey overnight. Strain out the onion and take a teaspoon of the mixture four times a day.
Here`s how you can prevent it:
Exposure to steam, as in a hot shower or hot liquids will help thin and release the sputum that the body is trying to cough up. Treating the primary cause of the coughing is helpful. Seek medical help if you cough for over two to three weeks.
Something to calm you down:
- Try drinking hot liquids, which loosen respiratory mucus and make it easier to cough up. (Hot liquids also soothe a sore throat and have decongestant action.) Tea sweetened with honey is effective. One study suggests that chicken soup, a traditional cold remedy, is particularly effective.
- Raise the head of your bed half a foot if a cough disrupts your sleep. This may prevent coughing due to gastro-oesophageal reflux.
- Pay attention to milk`s effects on you. Some people swear it thickens their respiratory mucus, adding to their congestion and coughing. This effect hasn`t been proven, but if milk seems to aggravate your cough, avoid dairy items for a few days.
- If you smoke, quit. Cigarette smoke is extremely irritating to the throat and lungs and provokes coughing.
- Avoid respiratory irritants, such as pollen, dust, and chemical fumes.
Consult your doctor:
- If you have chest pains, swollen neck glands, or a earache
- If the cough lasts longer than three weeks
- If you have a fever above 102F
- If your cough produces blood or discoloured phlegm
- If you are also wheezing or breathless