Chronic coughing can range from the occasional bouts that are simply annoying to painful attacks that rob patients of sleep. An involuntary action, coughing is the body’s way of clearing the lungs of foreign substances from the lungs and airway passages. There are many reasons that patients develop a cough, including the cold and flu virus, bronchitis, pneumonia, and whooping cough. The noninfectious causes of cough involve chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, and emphysema. While coughing is fairly common, there are symptoms to watch out for that indicate more serious conditions, as well as steps that patients can take to feel more comfortable when dealing with a cough. The best three treatments for dealing with chronic coughing are over-the-counter medications, prescription antibiotics and staying properly hydrated.
Infectious causes of coughs are accompanied by common symptoms, including chills, fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting, sinus pressure, and postnasal drip. These symptoms indicate that the cough is caused by cold, flu, or a bacterial infection. Because the symptoms of both infectious and noninfectious coughs can overlap, it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose a noninfectious cough that may need more long-term attention. Some unusual chronic cough symptoms can be attributed to smoking or other environmental irritants. If a person coughs in certain locations or when doing specific activities, this could also be an indication of chronic cough. If a cough accompanies medication, then stopping the medication may clear up the cough. However, patients who have coughing fits that happen on a regular basis should contact their physicians as soon as possible.
Most people can find relief from their coughs using today’s most tried-and-true treatment methods. The most well-known treatment for cough includes the wide range of over-the-counter and prescription drug remedies that are available. These come primarily in liquid form, and some contain narcotics in order to help people sleep. Expectorants help make it easier to cough, thinning out mucus to make it easier for the lungs to remove. Cough suppressants control the cough reflex, and are best for the dry, hacking cough that tends to keep people awake through the night. Cough suppressants need to be used carefully, as they can help keep mucus in the lungs, which can lead to a bacterial infection.
Antibiotics can be prescribed by physicians if coughing is due to bacterial infections. Bacterial infections can include forms of pneumonia and bronchitis, and may lead to hospitalization if not cleared up. Patients with weakened immune syptoms and elderly patients may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive treatment for chronic or severe coughing. These medications will clear up the cause of the cough, but over-the-counter medications may still be needed to address the symptoms.
Effective home remedies for treating cough often include the application of water in some form. It is very important for those suffering with a cough to drink water to prevent dehydration. This can help thin mucus and allow it to be expelled from the lungs. Adding honey, lemon, and decaffeinated tea to hot water can also lubricate the throat. A humidifier can also help a cough, adding moisture to the air and allowing the lungs and airways to relax and open. Nothing except water is needed in the humidifier, allowing patients to feel relief. Avoiding dust, smoke, pollutants, and other irritants can also help ease coughing.