Understanding Coughs

A common cough is easy to ignore. However, coughing is a natural reflex that occurs, often quite suddenly, to clear the airway of dust, smoke, chemicals, or mucus. As mentioned, mucus is a prime culprit of coughing. While a certain amount of mucus is essential to lubricate the intestines, lungs, and other essential bodily organs, if it builds up, mucus can become thick and sticky, and begin to block airways, impact breathing, and leave you open to severe infections. 

Effective treatments for coughs and colds include the following:

1. Cough expectorants

Expectorant medications are usually taken orally in tablet or cough syrup mode. These aim to first, loosen thick mucus so it can be expelled from the body, and then secondly, to suppress or calm a stubborn cough reflex. Expectorants come in many brand name formulas, such as Robitussin, and treat wet coughs, dry coughs, and even unproductive coughs (minus mucus). If you plan to treat a cough with a cough formula, like Robitussin, consult your doctor first to ensure you’re using the right cough medication.

2. Antihistamines

Antihistamines are drugs often prescribed for a cough when allergies and chronic post-nasal drip are the main symptoms. If you do contract a common cold bug but also suffer from allergies or asthma, seek a cough medicine that contains a decongestant/antihistamine combination. Look for antihistamines among the ingredients such as  diphenhydramine, brompheniramine, or chlorpheniramine.

3. Rest and warmth

With a common cold, you’ll need to have patience to wait out the passing of symptoms. Typically, it takes at least 12-hours for a cold to work it’s way out of an average, healthy body. To do that lots of sleep, warm fluids, and cozy comfort it recommended. Ensure your bedroom is warm and humid  (use a humidifier if you have to), and help ease mucus out of your body by staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal tea to break up stubborn congestion. 

4. Decongestant medications

Over-the-counter decongestants with added ingredients, like pseudoephedrine, may be recommended to break up congestion and dry out nasal passages to give you temporary relief. Decongestants may be taken in oral pill or nasal spray form. It’s just important to check with a doctor prior to taking them and also to only take them for 5 days maximum. If you suffer from diabetes, thyroid, or cardiovascular conditions (i.e, hypertension), please avoid taking any medication with pseudoephedrine added.