Cold And Flu

How to Stop a Persistent Cough



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A cough is a reflex mechanism in which the body tries to protect its airways from an external influence. This influence could be a foreign body, irritant substance, excessive secretions or a micro organism.

The cough, when persistant, could be annoying as well as discomforting. If it is a frequently repeated cough, it can lead to vomiting as well as tearing of tiny blood vessels in the throat in a condition known as 'mallory wisse syndrome'.

Persistent cough can be due to many causes; among them are more severe causes that need further investigations by a specialist. If an underlying pathology can be excluded, the persistent cough could well be due to:

Persistent inflammatory response Mucous blockage or inability to expel Persistent irritation

In making an end to a persistent cough, the following steps can be taken, which would focus mainly on avoiding the triggers that have contributed to the cough in the first place.

1. Stop smoking

Smoking is probably the biggest contributor to persistent cough within the population. The irritant nature of the nicotine and the smoke itself will cause the airways irritable and would lead to an inflammatory response.

Avoiding smoking as well as secondary smoking will eliminate the trigger factor and will allow the airways to return to its normal state.

2. Steam inhalation

Steam will be an effective means of liquefying the mucous trapped in the airways and allows it to expel without any difficulty with the cough. Once the mucous has been eliminated and the production becomes normal, the cough will seize to exist.

Apart from liquefying, the steam will ease the hypersensitive nature of the mucosa as well as ease the bronco-constriction.

3. Avoiding extreme temperatures and high humidity

Extreme temperatures and high humidity seems to be well known triggers for asthma and would present as a cough that will be persisting.

4. Avoid over indulgence in cough medications

Certain cough medications act by inducing a cough and expelling the excessive mucous. Once the target is achieved, the drug will no longer serve its purpose and should be discontinued. In certain instances, prolonged use of cough medications can induce cough rather than suppressing it. Therefore, a person taking cough medications should be vigilant about its effects.

5. Reduce the effect of 'post nasal drip'

Post nasal drip is the condition in which the excessive secretions produced by the nasal or pharyngeal mucosa will flow backwards and drop into the throat inducing a cough reflex. Mostly occurring in the nights, this could be troublesome and could deprive the patient from a good night sleep.

Lifting the head to a certain extent would facilitate the gravitational effect to take place on the secretions and reduce the back flow of the secretions.

6. Hydrate yourself

Hydration will help in liquefying the thick mucous produced by the lungs. This will facilitate the expulsion as well as relieve the symptom of cough.

7. Avoid diary products

Milk and related products are known to affect the mucous production and help in maintaining a persistent cough. Therefore, avoiding such products will relieve the patient from a troublesome cough to a certain level.

8. Take a balanced diet

Taking a balanced diet with adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables will facilitate a reduction in the produced mucous as well as making it thin. The support it gives in developing the body immunity to resist any infective threats will also facilitate the prevention of a persisting cough.

9. Hot water bath

A hot water bath will help in relieving the symptoms due to its effect on liquefying the mucous as well as desensitizing the mucosal lining. But, this should not be a first line of treatment, as in the acute stage, it can lead to aggravation of the symptoms.

10. Take treatment for acid reflux

In certain instances, acid reflux can cause the airway mucosa to be irritated. This occurs in a condition known as 'Acid Reflux'. Therefore, attending to this problem by seeking medical advice would assist in eliminating a persistent cough which is related to this condition.

Apart from these, there are many local remedies, such as ayurvedic treatment, in treating a persistent cough. Speak to your family doctor and plan out a method to avoid triggers, as well as maintenance elements for your cough and exclude any underlying pathologies.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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