Normally, a cough is taken as a simple disease. However, it can be very fatal sometimes especially if it is advanced. It is simply an action that the body takes in order to get rid of substances which might be irritating to the air passages. Most of these substances are inhaled in the air when a person breathes through the nose or mouth to the lungs. A person coughs when the cells which are along the air passages get irritated and hence triggers a chain of events. The action of coughing can be either a voluntary process where a person chooses to cough, or an involuntary process, where the body coughs on its own. There are different types of cough that people experience which include acute coughs and chronic cough. According to reports from various specialists, most people know very little information about coughs. That is why this article provides the necessary details that you need to know about coughs which involve the causes, symptoms, remedies as well as preventions.
Causes of Cough
There are a number of causes of coughs. They are mainly categorized into two, that is, acute and chronic coughs. If you are experiencing cough for less than three weeks, then that is acute cough. Chronic coughs are the ones that present for more than three weeks. In most cases, chronic coughs appear to be more serious than acute coughs which disappear even without going for treatments. However, not all acute coughs can disappear without treating them, only the minor ones like environmental allergies. Acute coughs are divided into infectious and non-infectious causes. Aside from that, the other category of coughs, that is, chronic cough can be categorized into environmental irritants and the conditions which are within the lungs. The following are causes of coughs, both acute and chronic.
- Any environmental substance that irritates the air passages or the lungs is capable of producing a chronic cough with continued exposure. Cigarette smoke is the most common cause of chronic cough. Other cough-producing irritants include dusts, pollens, pet dander, particulate matter, industrial chemicals and pollution, cigar and pipe smoke, and low environmental humidity.
- In addition to disease processes within the lung and air passages, diseases elsewhere within the chest cavity may also be responsible for chronic cough. Conditions within the chest known to cause chronic cough include cancer, unusual growth of a lymph node, and an abnormal enlargement of the aorta, the main blood vessel leaving the heart.
- Within the lungs both common and uncommon conditions cause chronic cough. Common causes include asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Less common causes of lung-induced chronic cough include cancer, sarcoidosis , diseases of the lung tissue, and congestive heart failure with chronic fluid build-up in the lungs.
- The passages that connect the lungs to the external environment are known as the upper respiratory tract. Chronic sinus infections, chronic postnasal drip, diseases of the external ear, infections of the throat, and use of an inhibitor medication for high blood pressure have all been implicated in chronic cough.
- An often-overlooked cause of the chronic cough is gastro esophageal reflux (GERD). GERD occurs when acid from the stomach travels up the esophagus. This abnormal condition can cause irritation of the esophagus and larynx resulting in the reflex production of a cough.
Symptoms of Cough
The signs and symptoms of cough help to differentiate its causes. It can be a challenge sometimes to differentiate the symptoms of acute coughs from chronic coughs. However, here they are divided in order to prevent the confusion between the two categories of coughs.
I. Acute coughs
- Signs and symptoms that point to an infection include fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, headache, sinus pressure, runny nose, night sweats, and postnasal drip. Sputum, or phlegm, sometimes indicates an infection is present, but it is also seen in noninfectious causes.
- Signs and symptoms that point to a noninfectious cause include coughs that occur when a person is exposed to certain chemicals or irritants in the environment, coughs with wheezing, coughs that routinely worsen when an individual goes to certain locations or do certain activities, or coughs that improve with inhalers or allergy medications.
II. Chronic coughs
The signs and symptoms of the chronic cough can be hard for doctors to assess, because many causes of chronic cough have overlapping signs and symptoms.
- If a person has a chronic lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis, they may have a persistent cough or a cough that worsens with certain locations or activities. An individual may or may not have sputum with a cough, and often have improvement with the use of inhaled or oral steroids, or other inhaled medications.
- If a cough is caused by chronic sinus infections, chronic runny nose, or chronic postnasal drip, the person will often have the signs and symptoms associated with these conditions. A person may also notice that the cough worsens when his or her problem worsens, and often the cough will improve when the underlying problem is treated.
- If a cough is associated with medications, such as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, the cough often begins after starting the medication in question, but can come on at any point during the use of the medication. The cough is often dry and improves when the medication is stopped.
- A cough associated with GERD is often associated with a sensation of heartburn. This type of cough worsens during the day or when lying flat on the back. Furthermore, a sizable minority of people with a cough caused by GERD will note no symptoms of reflux, but most people will report improvement in their cough when GERD is treated properly.
- If a cough is a warning sign of an underlying cancer, the person may have a group of symptoms. If lung cancer or a cancer of the air passages is present, the person may cough up blood. Other signs and symptoms that may warn of a cancer include worsening fatigue, loss of appetite, unexplained loss of weight, or decreased ability to swallow solid or liquid foods.
- If a cough is related to environmental irritants, it will worsen when exposed to the offending agent. If a person has an environmental allergy, the cough may improve when using allergy medications. If a person has a smoker's cough, it may improve if they stop smoking and worsens with increased smoking.
Cough Home Remedies
If the patient has an acute cough and have not been to a doctor, he or she may attempt to use over-the-counter cold remedies to relieve the symptoms. If a common cold or flu is suspected, these may provide relief until the infection resolves on its own. Acute coughs that are caused by allergies are often relieved with allergy medication, and coughs due to environmental irritants will respond to elimination of the irritating agent.
Home care of the chronic cough with a known cause is directed at treating the underlying cause of the cough. This should be done in close consultation with a doctor or with a specialist. Although not every chronic cough can be eliminated, many people can find relief of their cough by following their doctor's recommendations closely. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- White pepper and honey- Honey is one of the most common ingredients in the home treatment of many medical conditions, of which cough is not an exception. Take a teaspoon of honey and mix it with grounded white pepper (a pinch). If you take this mixture about 2-3 times each day. It won't take long before the cough disappears. It should only take about four or five days for you to completely heal.
- Ginger- One of the most widely used herbal remedy happens to be ginger, which is readily available in many homes. Taking tea with ginger added into it some 3-4 times each day will help you overcome cough brought about by cold. You could as well eat raw ginger and the cough will still subside, as long as you can stand the taste.
- Raspberry, ice tea or orange juice with honey- One of the herbal treatments of cough is taking red raspberry with a little honey chuckle. You could also add some honey into liquor ice tea and watch the cold subside in not more than 3 days. Honey can also be mixed with a cup of orange juice as an effective cough treatment.
- Onion, tea, honey- It is hardly surprising that honey is at the center of nearly all cough treatments. You can treat this condition by preparing syrup using Comfrey tea, baked onion juice and honey. Take a a few teaspoons of this mixture throughout your day and the cough will subside in a few days time.
- Black Cohosh- This herb is very popular among women as a woman's botanical. However, what most women aren't aware of is its efficacy in the home treatment of cough. Taking a cup of Black Cohosh before turning in will lessen the always inconvenient night coughs.
Diet for Cough
It is advisable to take certain diets in order to prevent coughs. These diets include the following:
- Taking plenty of fluids like warm water, juices, soups just to mention a few.
- Eat fruits in order to prevent dehydration during cough. Such fruits include oranges, mangoes, papayas, and others.
Prevention of Cough
There are a number of ways that you can prevent coughs.however, most of them are based on avoiding the medical problems that cause cough. Here are some of them,
- The most important aspect of prevention is to stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, particularly for people with asthma, chronic lung disease, and environmental allergies.
- For people with GERD, prevention is aimed at diet modification, sleeping with the head of the bed elevated, and taking all medications as prescribed.
- For any person who is on medication for a chronic lung disease, the best prevention is strict adherence to the doctors prescribed treatments.
- Isolate the sick person, until he or she has received five days of antibiotics. During this time, everyone who comes into contact with the sick person should wear a surgical mask to cover their face. Generally all close contacts of an individual diagnosed with whooping cough are also prescribed antibiotics to prevent transmission of the bacteria.
- Practice good hand washing. Whooping cough bacteria can be transmitted through contact with contaminated inanimate objects such as dishes.
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer to help loosen secretions and soothe the cough of the person.
- Monitor sick person for signs of dehydration, such as dry lips and tongue, dry skin, and decrease in the amount of urine. Report any signs of dehydration to your doctor immediately.
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