Cough: symptoms, causes, all remedies

Cough is a useful reaction to protect the lungs against the inhalation of a foreign body and helps to remove excessive bronchial secretions. It may depend on several factors and be accompanied by other pathologies such as fever, nausea and lack of appetite. Let's find out better.

Cough symptoms

Coughing is often a reaction to an irritant. Dry cough tends to occur in association with characteristic symptoms such as fever, general malaise, sore throat, nausea, hoarse voice and joint pain.

Sometimes it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as halitosis (bad breath), bleeding gums, diarrhea, loss of appetite and rash. In most people, dry cough worsens during the night, to gradually fade in the early hours of the morning.

Pneumonia, allergic reactions, pleurisy, tuberculosis, pertussis, viral laryngitis can be some of the pathologies from which the cough derives.


There are many triggers, which are divided into:

  • exogenous causes , such as tobacco smoke, smog;
  • mechanical causes , such as secretions, vocal efforts, foreign bodies, tonsil hypertrophy.

The cough then characterizes asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema. The cough stimulus is also generated by all laryngeal and tracheal infections, by diseases affecting the blood circulation and also after taking drugs (especially beta-blockers and Ace-inhibitors).


In general the symptomatology is studied by the Otorino specialist for chronic cough, often after a pneumological evaluation and an airway examination.

Chest auscultation clarifies basic diagnostic questions such as: is the cough acute or chronic? Is there a possible respiratory infection, is there fever? Is it seasonal, for example in spring? Do you associate with respiratory embarrassment? Is there sputum and if so is it streaked with blood?

The expert also investigates the patient's habits, the environment in which he lives, use of drugs , possible dyspnea or heart failure.


Feeding in case of cough

The cough is a defense mechanism of the organism that allows it to clean up the upper respiratory tract from irritating gases, secretions or foreign bodies and is consequent also to inflammatory phenomena. It can be dry or productive with the elimination of various types of secretions.

In the event that the cough is due to inflammatory phenomena, it is useful to follow a natural diet that includes the reduction of milk and dairy products (which contribute to the production of mucus and phlegm), packaged foods, red meats and cured meats and finally sugars ( refined sugar and sweets).

In case of cough due to pharyngitis and tonsillitis, water and vinegar gargling can be alternated with water and lemon gargle. The former will have a decongestant and astringent action thanks to the salt while the latter will have an antiseptic and natural bactericidal action.

Based on the type of cough we have effective nutritional associations.

Dry and irritating cough :

  • Chamomile and lemon decoction: a carefully washed organic lemon is peeled to use the rind that is boiled in 250ml of water for five minutes together with the contents of a sachet of chamomile. It is filtered and a tablespoon of honey is added. The decoction has soothing properties for chamomile and honey, and antispasmodics for the essential oils of lemon peel.

Productive cough with catarrhal phenomena :

  • Decoction of dried figs: 5 dried figs are boiled in 250ml of water for five minutes. It is filtered and drunk in small sips in case of cough and before going to sleep. The use of this decoction is to thin the mucus and calm both dry and catarrhal cough.
  • Onion with honey: cut an onion into horizontal slices to form several layers, sprinkle each layer with honey and leave to rest for 24 hours. Then the honey is collected which is poured along the sides of the onion and is taken with teaspoons. Useful in expectoration.

Honey among the right foods for the treatment of cough: discover the others

Herbal remedies

The plants used for the treatment of cough have anti-inflammatory, mucolytic, expectorant and balsamic properties. The antiseptic and antibacterial property, able to counteract possible infections, is due to the presence of essential oils.

They can be taken in tablets, capsules, syrups, mother tinctures, infusions and macerated.

  • Plantain : ( Plantago lanceolata) the leaves are indicated for inflammation of the throat and respiratory tract in general, such as cough, bronchial catarrh, chronic bronchitis, hay fever, sinusitis, and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and urogenital system ;
  • Island lichen : ( Cetraria islandica ) the thallus is endowed with marked mucolytic, decongestant and protective properties for the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, it is used as an expectorant and a fluidifier of bronchial secretions in case of cough, pertussis and asthma. These properties are therefore useful for inflammation of the bronchi and lungs and upper airways;
  • Helichrysum : ( Helichrysum italicum ) the flowering tops are used in diseases of the respiratory system, both allergic and infectious, as they favor the elimination of bronchial catarrh, attenuate excessive asthma spasms and inflammation of allergic mucosa origin nasal, cough, acute and chronic bronchitis;
  • Hyssop : ( Hyssopus officinalis) the flowering tops have balsamic and expectorant properties for the respiratory tract, therefore they are used to calm cough and asthma attacks, as they thin and help to eliminate the phlegm especially from the bronchi and the lungs.
  • Drosera: ( Drosera rotundifolia ) the leaves contain droserone, a complex substance chemically similar to plumbagina, a naphtho-kinetic derivative, which has a beneficial action as a sedative for various types of cough, in particular a cough with bronchospasm, asthma, pertussis, "Smoker's cough".

Among the gemmoderivati ‚Äč‚Äčagainst cough is used that of the Carpino ( Carpinus betulus ), useful in respiratory syndromes, for the anti-inflammatory, anti-catarrhal, cough sedative and healing of mucous membranes affected by phlogistic processes. The Viburnum ( Viburnum lantana ), exerts a specific action of modulation and pulmonary neurovegetative regulation, indicated to quell the cough and inhibit bronchial spasm, in the asthmatic forms of cough.

Finally, the black honeysuckle ( Lonicera nigra ), is effectively used on the inflammatory processes that tend to become chronic, in case of acute bronchitis, whooping or dry cough, asthma, flu, tonsillitis, laryngitis with hoarseness and aphonia.

You can learn more about all herbal remedies for cough

Bach flowers for coughs

The respiratory tract is the means of communication (exchange between the internal environment and the external environment), where life enters, which will then be distributed by the blood throughout the body.

Diseases of the organs of respiration translate the exchanges with the surrounding environment as regards our need for "air", space and autonomy. They can signal an absence of taste for life, the loss of desire to continue living, or even a devastating sense of guilt.

  • Wild rose is the remedy for those who have been disappointed by life and affections and do not want to run the risk of suffering again. He has lost the motivation, the interest, he suffers for the disappointed expectation, and he renounces the struggle for life, showing resignation, apathy, escape, passive acceptance, fatigue, abolition, sadness, paralysis, surrender, indifference, poor vitality.
  • Honeysuckle : indicated for respiratory and bronchitis disorders that arise in those who live with regrets, memories, nostalgia for an idealized time with which they have an unresolved bond. He has no experience because he expects nothing positive either from the present or from the future. He does not think he will find happiness similar to the one he has already known. Strict inwardly, he is still and locked, and loses vital energy. The look is absent and the movements are slow. He has neither desires nor wills, he is sad, melancholy, pessimistic, incapable of rejoicing, joking, laughing.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Cough in traditional Chinese medicine must be treated through a therapy aimed at dispersing external agents, controlling anxiety or irritability, reducing symptoms and improving the respiratory phase. Some important points are:

  • FEI SHUI (shu point of the back of the Lung, at 1.5 cun to the side of the spinous apophysis of the II thoracic vertebra) which tones and regulates the flow of the Lung;
  • DA ZHUI (large vertebra, located below C7) which tones the qi of the Spleen;
  • PI SHU (shu point of the back of the Spleen, 1.5 cun to the side of the thorny apophysis of the XI thoracic vertebra), mobilizes the qi of the Spleen, regulates the flow of the Blood and dissolves the humidity.
  • LIE QUE (located on the radial shower, on the tendon of the arm-radial muscle) which stimulates the descent of the qi .

Aromatherapy for coughs

The essences used to dissolve and eliminate the excessive secretion produced in the bronchi and lungs, and to quell the cough, have balsamic and mucolytic and antibiotic properties . The applications of these oils are the environmental diffusion, through fumenti (5-7 drops in hot water) or through the aromatherapy massage on the chest (3 drops in a neutral cream); finally the intake for internal use, 2-3 drops in a teaspoon of honey, 2-3 times a day.

  • Thyme essential oil : helps to thin and expectorate the phlegm from the bronchi and lungs, it blurs the congestion of the oral cavity, throat, pulmonary and nasal mucosa. These properties make it one of the elective remedies for coughs, bronchitis, pertussis and colds.
  • Myrtle essential oil : well tolerated even by children, it has a mucolytic, expectorant and fluidifying effect of phlegm. It helps decongest the inflamed respiratory tract, in the case of colds, bronchitis, coughs, even those of smokers, and in all chronic diseases of the respiratory system.
  • Niaouly essential oil : its application fields are related to the typical disorders of winter, such as cough, flu, cold, sore throat. It performs a decongestant action on the bronchi and lungs, therefore it is indicated in all forms of cough, both oily and dry: in the first case it helps to eliminate the phlegm, while in the second it helps to thin it, allowing its expulsion.
  • Tea tree essential oil: its vapors can guarantee well-being for breathing and fight against flu syndromes, characterized by the presence of mucus and phlegm, by virtue of the fluidifying and expectorant action on the respiratory tract.

Homeopathic remedies

The general treatment adopted in homeopathy against dry cough involves the administration of:

  • Aconitum 9 CH (5 granules, also every hour), useful in case of coughing occurring after a cold shot;
  • Bryonia 9 CH (5 granules every 2 hours), dry, painful cough; Corallium rubrum 5 CH (5 granules every 2 hours), after exposure to damp cold, in case of violent explosive coughing crisis.

Coughing exercises

Once the nature of the cough has been clarified (whether dry or oily), it is advisable to understand immediately whether it is an infection of the respiratory tract or an allergic form or a symptom that detects an imbalance in terms of energy and heart function.

Better not expose yourself to temperature changes or cold spells.

Cover your throat and chest in cold seasons . The environment in which you live must be well humidified : relative humidity on 40-60% is the right one; for this reason there are various types of humidifiers on the market, including ultrasonic ones, which serve the purpose. Avoid the pool on days of acute cough.

Also avoid active smoking and temporarily suspend sports activities and put yourself at rest so that the body can resume training for good, whatever the discipline you practice.

If you practice yoga, ask your guide for advice as he will be able to tell you about suitable breathing exercises. However, pranayama should only be approached when the limbs, nervous system and lungs have been strengthened with the practice of asanas .

A rushed or incorrect practice can even worsen cases of coughing, phlegm, asthma, hiccups, head or eye pain and nerve irritation. Slow learning, gradualness and concentration are essential aspects.

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