Cough: An important protective reflex
Even though we usually find coughing uncomfortable and unnecessary, it still fulfills an extremely important protective function for our airways: the explosive expulsion of air serves to remove mucus, dust or foreign objects from our lungs or throat. This cough reflex is triggered when the corresponding receptors in our epithelial cells are occupied. In the case of cold-related phlegm, this leads to a cough with sputum (productive cough) to get rid of the pathogens. If, on the other hand, dust or other microscopically small foreign bodies stick to the epithelial cells, this leads to a dry cough – too cough called.
Important: Acute coughing that lasts a maximum of three weeks is usually harmless and is considered a normal symptom of colds. However, if your cough persists, you should consult your doctor. From four weeks one speaks of subacute or chronic cough.
Dry cough: 5 tips against dry cough
1. Increase hydration
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer traditional home remedies such as chicken soup or prefer to add water and Grab cold teas – increased fluid intake is always helpful when you have a cough. In a meta-analysis by the University of Oxford, honey proven to be particularly effective: the tried and tested home remedy was able to reduce both the frequency and severity of coughing. You are therefore welcome to refine your tea with a portion of bee nectar or treat yourself to warm milk with honey to counteract a dry cough.
2. Inhale with salt water
Inhalation of salty water vapor can have a soothing effect on cold infections and the cough that occurs with them. With the help of the warm, humid air, you counteract drying out of your airways and can thus eliminate a stimulus factor for coughing. In order to optimally moisten your mucous membranes, boil one liter of water (caution: risk of scalding!), let it cool down a bit and fill it in a sufficiently large bowl. Add three teaspoons of table salt or sea salt and lean over the bowl. Cover your head and bowl with a towel to prevent the steam from escaping. Several inhalations of 10 to 20 minutes each are recommended per day.
Important: However, according to the Health Knowledge Foundation, water vapor inhalation is unsuitable for children.
3. Cough suppressant
Basically, coughing is an important reflex that cleans our airways and should not be suppressed, at least if there is mucus in the throat. However, if you have a nagging, dry, dry cough, it makes sense to use cough suppressants to prevent further irritation and inflammation of the throat. In this way you prevent the mucous membranes of your airways from suffering additional damage and the cough only getting worse. The use of medicinal cough suppressants is especially at night recommended to ensure a restful sleep. However, such drugs should not be used for more than a week due to the risk of addiction. Get advice on this from your trusted pharmacy.
4. Nose drops
If our nose is blocked, we have to breathe through our mouth. Unfortunately, this can worsen the drying out of your throat and increase the urge to cough. Because the nose actually has the task of filtering, warming and humidifying incoming air. If both nostrils are blocked, dry, cold air will enter your throat. the short-term application decongestant nose drops or nasal sprays can help here. However, these should not be used for more than five days, otherwise there is a risk of dependency.
5. Avoid cough triggers
Certain substances can irritate the epithelial cells in your bronchi and throat, triggering or increasing the urge to cough. These irritants include one dry heating air in winter, which is why humidifying the air, for example using damp cloths on the heater, can make sense. However, you should not do without regular airing due to the risk of mold. Likewise, an excess of dust in the apartment or exhaust gases additionally irritate your airways in road traffic. If, on the other hand, you suffer from the typical smoker’s cough with sputum, the cigarette smoke is responsible for this because it destroys the cilia of the bronchial mucosa and thus inhibits the removal of mucus.