June 25, 2024
This article highlights the benefits of natural remedies and lifestyle changes for soothing coughs. It discusses the effectiveness of honey, herbal teas, essential oils, and breathing techniques. It also covers the different types of cough medicine available over-the-counter, and how to choose the proper medication based on the type of cough. The article concludes by providing tips for soothing a nighttime cough and indicating when to see a doctor for a persistent cough.

How to Help a Cough: Natural Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

Coughing is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It’s often a symptom of a respiratory infection or allergies, but can also be a sign of a more serious health issue. Regardless of its cause, it’s important to soothe a cough to alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications. This article aims to provide solutions to the problem of coughing, including natural remedies, medications, lifestyle changes and breathing techniques.

Natural Remedies to Soothe a Cough

Natural remedies can be a great alternative to over-the-counter medicines for soothing a cough. Not only are they usually less expensive, but they also have fewer side effects. Below are some effective natural remedies:

Herbal teas

Herbal teas have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties. They can provide relief from coughing and soothe a sore throat. Some of the best teas for coughs include chamomile, peppermint, and ginger tea. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and calming properties that can help ease the muscles in the throat. Peppermint tea contains menthol which is a natural decongestant and can help unclog sinuses. Ginger tea is an effective anti-inflammatory and can help reduce swelling in the throat.


Honey is an effective cough suppressant due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also soothe a sore throat. Adding a tablespoon of honey to warm water or tea can help alleviate a cough. However, it’s important to note that children under 1 year of age should not consume honey due to their risk of developing botulism.

Essential oils

Essential oils are plant extracts that can be used for medicinal purposes. They can be applied topically or diffused in the air. Two effective oils for coughs include eucalyptus and peppermint oil which have anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. Eucalyptus oil can help alleviate congestion and coughing by reducing inflammation of the airways. Peppermint oil can help reduce the severity of coughing by relaxing the muscles of the respiratory tract.

 Medications That Work for Coughs
Medications That Work for Coughs

Medications That Work for Coughs

Over-the-counter cough medicines can be effective in suppressing coughs. However, it’s important to note that they should not be taken for prolonged periods of time as they can have side effects and be addictive. Below are the types of cough medicine available:


Expectorants are medicines that help loosen mucus in the airways, making coughs more productive. They are effective for the type of cough that produces phlegm or mucus. They work by thinning the mucus in the airways, making it easier to cough up. Examples of expectorants include guaifenesin and acetylcysteine.


Suppressants are medicines that reduce coughing. They are effective for dry coughs that do not produce mucus. They work by blocking the cough reflex. Examples of suppressants include dextromethorphan and codeine.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Coughing

Making certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate coughing and prevent further complications. Some changes include:

Staying hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids can help thin mucus and reduce coughing. It is recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Warm fluids, such as broth or herbal tea, can be particularly soothing.

Avoiding irritants

Irritants, such as cigarette smoke, dust, and chemicals, can worsen coughing. Avoiding them can help reduce the intensity and frequency of the cough.

Quitting smoking

If you are a smoker, quitting is an effective way to reduce coughing and improve respiratory health. Smoking damages the lungs and can lead to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer.

Breathing Techniques to Alleviate Coughing

Breathing techniques can help control coughing and promote relaxation. Some effective techniques include:

Pursed-lip breathing

Pursed-lip breathing involves breathing in through the nose and exhaling slowly through pursed lips. This technique can help slow down breathing and ease the muscles in the respiratory tract, making coughing less intense.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, involves breathing deeply into the belly. This technique can help increase oxygen intake and reduce coughing.

Tips for Soothing a Nighttime Cough

Nighttime coughing can be especially frustrating, as it can disrupt sleep. Below are some useful tips for reducing coughing while trying to sleep:

Using a humidifier

A humidifier can add moisture to the air, which can help reduce coughing by soothing the throat.

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol can promote dehydration, making coughing worse. Avoiding them before bed can help promote better sleep.

Sleeping at an incline

Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help reduce coughing by preventing mucus from pooling in the throat.

When to See a Doctor for a Persistent Cough

While most coughs are acute and go away on their own within a few weeks, some can indicate a more serious health issue. Below are symptoms that could indicate a persistent cough:

Difficulty breathing

If coughing is accompanied by difficulty breathing, it could indicate a respiratory infection or asthma.

Chest pain

Chest pain could indicate a serious medical condition, such as pneumonia or heart disease.

Coughing up blood

If you are coughing up blood, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately as it could indicate a serious medical issue.


In conclusion, coughing can be a symptom of a variety of health issues, from a mild cold to a more serious condition. Natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and breathing techniques can help alleviate coughing and promote better respiratory health. When symptoms persist or worsen it is important to see the doctor to be intially diagnosed and provided with treatment for the underlying issue.

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