A cough is a reflex action to clear your airways of mucus and irritants.
A cough is an important defensive reflex that helps protect your body from irritants like:
- allergens, such as dust, mold, and pollen
Coughing is a symptom of many illnesses and conditions. Sometimes, the characteristics of your cough can give you a clue to its cause.
Coughs can be described by:
- Behavior or experience. When and why does the cough happen? Is it at night, after eating, or while exercising?
- How does your cough sound or feel? Hacking, wet, or dry?
- Does your cough last less than 2 weeks, 6 weeks, or more than 8 weeks?
- Does your cough cause related symptoms such as urinary incontinence, vomiting, or sleeplessness?
- How bad is it? Is it annoying, persistent, or debilitating?
- a) Acute cough: < 3 weeks in duration
- b) Subacute cough: 3-8 weeks in duration
- c) Chronic cough: 8 weeks in duration
Types of cough
- Wet cough
- A wet cough, also called a productive cough, is a cough that typically brings up mucus.
- A cold or the flu commonly causes wet coughs. They can come on slowly or quickly and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- runny nose
- postnasal drip
Wet coughs sound wet because your body is pushing mucus out of your respiratory system, which includes:
Conditions that can cause a wet cough include:
- cold or the flu
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
- acute bronchitis
- Dry cough
A dry cough is a cough that doesn’t bring up mucus. It has a tickle in the back of your throat triggering the cough reflex, giving hacking coughs. Dry coughs are often difficult to manage and may present in long fits. Dry coughs occur because there’s inflammation or irritation in the respiratory tract, but there’s no excess mucus to cough up.
- sore throat
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- medications, especially ACE inhibitors
- exposure to irritants such as air pollution, dust, or smoke
- Paroxysmal cough
- A paroxysmal cough is a cough with intermittent attacks of violent, uncontrollable coughing. A paroxysmal cough feels exhausting and painful. People struggle to get a breath and may vomit.
- Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a bacterial infection that causes violent coughing fits.
- During whooping cough attacks, the lungs release all the air they have, causing people to inhale violently with a “whoop” sound.
- Babies have a higher risk of contracting whooping cough and face more serious complications from it. For them, whooping cough may be life threatening.
- Croup cough
- Croup is a viral infection that typically affects children ages 5 and younger.
- Croup causes the upper airway to become irritated and swollen. Young children already have narrower airways. When swelling further narrows the airway, it becomes difficult to breathe.
- Croup causes a characteristic “barking” cough that sounds like a seal. Swelling in and around the voice box also causes a raspy voice and squeaky breathing noises.
Children may have symptoms:
- Struggle for breath
- Make high-pitched noises during inhalation
- Breathe very rapidly
- In severe cases, children become pale or bluish.
Homeopathic medicines are often effective in treating the acute symptoms of coughs, though professional constitutional care is usually necessary to achieve a deeper level of cure of chronic respiratory problems.
This remedy relieves dry and painful cough, with dry throat and intense thirst. Coughing is triggered by speaking, and the pain is relieved by staying immobile or applying strong pressure to the ribcage.
The cough for using this medicine is usually deep, dry in nature. This is attended with difficulty in breathing. In many cases whistling sound from the chest is present. Sometimes expectoration of frothy mucus or yellow mucus is present. The symptoms most times get worse at night time. Along with the above symptoms, great anxiety and restlessness also appear.
This remedy is indicated when a person experiences hoarseness and a tickly cough that hurts the throat, or a cold that travels quickly to the chest. The cough can be aggravated by talking, laughing, and exposure to cold air. The person may feel heaviness or tightness. A thirst for cold drinks (that may cause nausea after warming up in the stomach) is another indication for Phosphorus. A person who needs this remedy is typically imaginative and fearful, and likes the company of others, but tires very easily. This remedy is often used for loss of the voice and laryngitis.
This relieves wet cough with thick, yellowish phlegm, aggravated in bed.
This remedy relieves dry cough triggered by breathing cold air, with a feeling of scratchy throat, and a tickling above the sternum, between the two collar bones.
This remedy is indicated when a cough has come on suddenly—often from exposure to cold wind, or after a traumatic experience. The cough is likely to be sharp, short, dry, and constant. It may begin during sleep and wake the person up, or can start when the person goes from a cool place into a warmer one. Restlessness and fear are typical when this remedy is needed. It is often used in early stages of croup and asthma.
This remedy relieves wet cough with thick phlegm and difficult expectoration.
A cough that comes on suddenly, often with the feeling of a speck or tickle in the throat, is a strong indication for this remedy. The cough is intense and nagging and the person may feel as if the head is about to burst. Sensations of heat, a reddened face, and dilated pupils are often seen when this remedy is needed.
A dry, hard, irritating cough that starts after being exposed to wind, or after being overexcited and angry, can indicate this remedy. The cough is often worse around nine in the evening and may continue into the night. The nervous system is hypersensitive, and the person can be extremely irritable and agitated. Children may even shriek and hit, though they often calm down if someone carries them. This remedy is also useful in asthma attacks, especially those brought on by anger.
This remedy relieves dry cough, worse at night and from the warmth of the bed, triggered by speaking or laughing, with a feeling of tickling in the throat.
This is an excellent remedy for the early stages of many inflammatory conditions, especially colds and allergy attacks. The cough is typically short and tickling, and may be painful. Things are worse in cold air, at night, and in the early morning. The person feels weary, and often has a moderate fever and lightly flushed cheeks.
This relieves dry, hoarse cough worsened by cold air and cold drinks, occurring at the beginning and at the end of the night.
A person needing it has a spasmodic cough that ends in vomiting. It mostly worsens from eating. Along with this, mucus rattling in the chest is there. The chest feels tight, along with suffocation.
Indications for this remedy include a tight sensation in the chest with a dry, hacking, teasing cough often causing soreness or a feeling that something has been torn inside. Long coughing jags can end in stomach pain and retching, and may make the person’s head ache. A person who needs this remedy is likely to be impatient, irritable, and oversensitive to everything. A feeling of chilliness is typical, and problems are often worse from exertion (both mental and physical) and worse in the morning.
This remedy relieves croupy, barking cough, especially after a chill or cold weather, worse when lying down at night.
Kali bichrome is suitable when thick, viscid, ropy mucus is expectorated that can be drawn in long strings. It has an offensive smell. With this, there is a cough that is constant and is very loud. There is the excessive rattling of mucus in the chest with whistling sounds.