Irritating cough - What to do?

Woman with a dry cough

Coughing (dry cough) often occurs as part of a cold, but may have other causes. The coughing attacks are perceived as agonizing and often rob those affected at night to sleep. We reveal the causes behind dry cough and what helps to prevent coughing. We present you with over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as effective home remedies.

Cold as a possible cause

Coughing is not an independent disease, but a symptom that can occur in the context of various diseases. Irritable cough may include, but is not limited to, bronchial asthma, pleurisy, and heart or stomach disease. Likewise, certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors, can cause a dry cough. However, irritating coughing is particularly common in the course of a cold.

Cough: agonizing at night

In case of a cold, viruses invade the body, get stuck in the mucous membranes and cause inflammation there. If the mucous membranes in the throat are irritated, a cough reflex is triggered by a neuronal signal to the cough center. Only when the mucous membranes are no longer inflamed, the cough does not occur.

In the case of a cough, which occurs in the context of a cold, a distinction is made between dry irritated coughing (unproductive coughing) and coughing with expectoration (productive coughing):

  • Dry irritated cough occurs in the first phase of the infection and is often found to be very strenuous.
  • Only in the second phase, when the mucus formed can be coughed off, the affected feel through the cough relief.

Irritating cough in children

Irritable cough affects not only adults but also children. If a cold is the cause, treatment with home remedies is recommended for milder courses. As a parent, also make sure that your child drinks enough liquid.

If the cough persists for an extended period of time, or if you also experience fever and pain, you should see a doctor. This can determine the exact cause of the irritant cough - it may also point to an allergy or incipient bronchial asthma. For children under two years, a doctor should always be consulted as a precaution.

Home remedies for irritating cough

In the case of dry cough, as with other cold symptoms, care must be taken to ensure adequate hydration. Instead of drinking larger quantities at once, it is best to keep taking small sips of tea or soup.

In addition, ensure that there is sufficient humidity in the rooms: ventilate regularly and, if necessary, place a bowl of water on the heater.

In addition, there are various home remedies for irritating cough:

  • Onion syrup: Cut an onion into pieces and add some honey or sugar over it. Leave the onion for at least one hour and then take one tablespoon of the onion suds every morning, noon and evening.
  • Hustentee: Teas in the varieties mallow, coltsfoot, fennel and marjoram are recommended. Or simply mix your own cough-teas from different ingredients: Take, for example, ten grams of Icelandic moss and five grams of allergy kernels, hibiscus roots, coltsfoot, lungwort, ribwort and licorice.
  • Inhalation: Inhalation helps to moisturize the dry mucous membranes in irritated cough and so calms the coughing. Suitable additives include common salt, chamomile or thyme.
  • Potato Wrap: Put several warm, crushed jacket potatoes in a cloth and wrap it around the chest. Test the temperature of the coil beforehand on an insensitive body site. Wear the wrap as long as you feel the warmth is pleasant.
5 facts about irritating cough (infographic)

5 facts about irritating cough - © istockphoto, violet-blue

Medicines for irritating cough

For the treatment of dry irritated cough, medicines are used to quench the cough (antitussives). Some drugs depress the cough center, others inhibit the cough receptors in the bronchi or reduce the transmission of stimuli. Suitable drugs are the active ingredients codeine, dihydrocodeine, dextromethorphan, noscapine or pentoxyverin.

Drugs with codeine, dihydrocodeine or noscapine are prescription drugs. Codeine and dihydrocodeine should not be used for an extended period of time as they can make them dependent. Since coughing is an important protective reflex, anti-cough medications should only be taken if the cough is so severe that treatment with home remedies has no effect.

Herbal medications

For the treatment of irritating cough, various herbal products are available. Although they are slightly less effective than the above-mentioned drugs, but have no unpleasant side effects. In order to treat cold-induced irritable cough, herbal products are usually sufficient. Among other remedies have proven to be with marshmallow root, ribwort weed or Malven leaves.

Also recommended are Icelandic moss pastilles. By sucking the lozenges, the mucous membranes in the neck are moistened and the coughing stimulated. In addition, the mucus-forming sugars in Icelandic moss ensure that a protective film lays over the dry mucous membranes. As a result, they can calm down and the cough ceases.

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