When we cough it is our body signaling us that there is some sort of irritation in the airways. The cough could be the result of exposure to an allergen, it could mean we are about to get sick, it could be because we need a drink, and it could be a symptom of a chronic illness.

Common Cough Causes

There are literally hundreds of reasons why you might cough, but some of the most common reasons are:

  • A dry throat
  • Reactions to dust
  • Reactions to pollen
  • Reactions to mold spores
  • Reactions to cigarette smoke
  • Reactions to strong perfumes or air fresheners
  • Colds
  • Pneumonia
  • The flu
  • COPD
  • Lung cancer
  • Asthma
  • Heart failure
  • Medication side effects

What to do about a cough

The first thing to do when you develop a cough is try and soothe your throat to see if the cough is a reaction to a temporary exposure to a substance, or to a dry throat. The best way to do this is to take a drink of water. Wetting your throat tissue may ease the dry cough effect and it may also wash any pollen or allergen that is bugging you out of your throat.

Using a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer in the room you are in will also help to soothe irritated throat tissue.

You can take a small dose of honey at night just before you go to bed. Honey should never be given to children who are under the age of two years.

Try elevating the head of your bed, or elevating your head through the use of extra pillows. This will help any drainage that you have been going on to travel out of your throat.

When you have mucus coming up as part of the cough then you need a cough medication that is an expectorant to help you loosen the mucus and bring it up.

If you simply have a tickle in the back of your throat, you can calm it with a cough drop or even a piece of hard candy.

When to worry about a cough

We all cough from time to time, and most of the time we can take care of our coughs with simple home remedies, or with over the counter products. There will be times in your life when your cough will need the attention of a doctor though. If you have a cough with the following characteristics, then seek medical attention:

  • A cough that is accompanied by a fever of one hundred or higher
  • A cough that lasts for more than seven to ten days
  • A cough that is so hard it takes your breath
  • A cough accompanied by a rash
  • A cough that goes away and returns
  • A cough accompanied by a wheezing sound when you breathe
  • An infants cough