We all have experienced bouts of coughing, mild to chronic in nature, but there are some stubborn & painful coughs that will just not go away. Read on to know why it happens and how to say enough to this cough practically!
Why we cough?
Coughing is body’s natural reaction to clear the airways & lungs when in contact with any irritants, foreign particles or microbes. But frequent coughing, that too, for more than 7-10 days is a health condition that should not be ignored. It should be identified & arrested immediately before it takes a chronic turn.
Reasons for chronic coughing
We list down a few conditions & symptoms which cause chronic coughing in children & adults.
- Bacterial & viral infections – Chronic coughing episodes along with mucus which is white, green, yellow and red in color.
- Asthma- Chronic coughing along with breathing difficulties and wheezing simultaneously.
- Allergy-Sudden chronic coughing along with sneezes, runny nose and red eyes.
- GERD- Acid reflux not only causes chronic cough in the morning but also throat pain.
- Bronchitis- Chronic coughing with mucus which is gray, green, or slightly red in color along with fever and chills. If left untreated, can cause chronic cough for upto 90 days.
- Pneumonia- Fever, shallow breathing, extreme weakness, chronic cough with green, yellow and red mucus. If not detected at the right time, it can lead to hospitalization.
- Heart problems-Rarely, but chronic coughing, wheezing, or heart palpitations can be caused due to mild to chronic heart diseases.
- Smoking- Smoker’s cough is gunky in sound and can be easily distinguished. It usually goes away once smoking is quit. But when smokers don’t quit, it takes a bad turn, most often COPD.
- COPD-Chronic coughing, breathing difficulty, and wheezing along with chest pain.
If you are having the above symptoms, don’t panic. Except for coughing caused due to heart problems & COPD, other types of chronic coughing can be easily managed & resolved within a week to ten days.
However, for infections one must watch out for the color of the mucus released while coughing up. Yellow, green, brown and red spotted mucus are sure shot signs of body fighting infections. Don’t delay, it is best to consult a doctor and take due course of antibiotics/antivirals/antiflu medications for quick & permanent relief.
Effective natural remedies to relieve chronic cough along with medicines
- Luke warm Honey brewed with Tulsi (holy basil) leaves mixture (twice a day)
- Ginger juice mixed with black pepper & jaggery (twice a day)
- Sipping hot water (every 1 hour or as many times as required)
- Rub warm mustard oil & garlic in the palms, throat & feet (every day during bedtime)
- Taking Hot water steam vapors.
Sometimes despite all your efforts, some chronic coughs keep flaring up again & again. In that case, a thorough diagnostic investigation should be done to identify the exact cause and to rule out other underlying medical conditions.
Imaging Test- Chest X ray is useful in determining pneumonia, lung cancer and other lung diseases. However, asthmatic conditions, GERD, and heart problems cannot be confirmed by chest X rays, so a CT scan, ultrasound or MRI is suggested to investigate fluid retention & chronic conditions.
Sputum culture- Sputum or phlegm culture is very important if you are having bacterial or viral infections of the lung & the respiratory tract such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, bronchitis etc. The colour of the mucus produced indicates the kind of infection as whether mild or chronic in nature. Blood spotted mucus should never be ignored. Culture also helps your doctor in choosing the line of treatment.
Blood test – Blood counts are important in determining chest infections such as CRP (for viral or bacterial), WBC (infection intensity & inflammations) and antibiotic resistance for helping the physician choose the most effective & specific antibiotic course for you.