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Even though the holiday season may be over, cold and flu season still has several months to go. While colds come in all varieties, some of the worst involve dealing with a nagging cough.

Coughing occurs when the something in the body, whether it’s the dust that you breathe or postnasal drip, begins to irritate your throat. The act of coughing helps to clear your lungs and windpipe of whatever caused the initial irritation. Most often a cough caused by a cold or flu virus will go away as your body fights off the illness. However, if your cough is caused by a more serious underlying medical condition, you’ll need to treat the cause to get rid of the cough.

Fortunately, whatever the cause of your cough, there are numerous ways to feel better.

Dealing with a Cough

When dealing with a nagging cough at home, there are several simple methods you can use to help easy your condition. Start by drinking plenty of water, and try using a humidifier or vaporizer at night while sleeping to help sooth an irritated throat and loosen built up mucus. Prop your head up a little higher at night by using an extra pillow in order to help the mucus from head congestion drain. Also consider drinking some decaffeinated tea with honey shortly before going to sleep. Studies have shown that consuming honey can help to ease a cough.

If you’re suffering from a “wet” cough, where you are repeatedly coughing up mucus, look for a cough medicine that says “expectorant” on the label, which helps to loosen mucus so you can cough it up. If you’re coughing up an excessive amount of mucus, you should consult with your doctor to determine the best cough medicine for you. You should also consult with a doctor prior to using cough medication to treat a serious condition such as pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, or chronic bronchitis.

Conversely if you have a “dry” cough it may be a symptom of a cold or flu virus. For coughs without any mucus, using a cough suppressant can help to prevent your urge to cough. If you’re reluctant to use cough drops, hard candy can also stop you from feeling that tickle in the back of the throat that causes you to cough.

Treating Children with a Cough

While the treatment methods listed above can help an adult or teen deal with a troublesome cough, most are not suitable for young children. Honey, for example, shouldn’t ever be given to children less then a year old, and cough medications or drops should never be given to a child under the age of four due to the serious side effects it could have. For children between the ages of four to six, you should ask your doctor prior to giving them any cough or cold medicines. However, once a child reaches the age of six, it’s safe to give them medication. To help children over the age of one, try giving them a teaspoon of honey at night to help them cough up mucus.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Donald Lanahan, a Grants Pass dentist.


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