As everyone knows, cough is the body’s natural mechanism for getting rid of mucous or anything foreign with the aim of keeping it from collecting in the lungs. Some acute coughs are purely environmental – from smoke, cigarette smoke, noxious chemicals, etc. Some are allergic, like in wheezing or sinus drainage.

From the viewpoint of this module, it is important to distinguish between acute vs. chronic cough. We cannot help you manage cough if it is chronic, say from smoker’s cough or emphysema. An acute cough – coming on suddenly and generally self-limited – can be rapidly relieved using eRemedies carefully selected by the expert system found at eremedyonline.com/module/29/cough/.

It might help you to notice whether your cough is helped by frequent swallowing. This suggests that it is due to drainage from sinuses. Whether due to an infection or to allergies, the mucous drains down the back of the throat as a “postnasal discharge.” Ironically, nerve endings in the throat do not detect such smooth discharge, so it tends to pass through the throat directly into the lungs, causing a cough. If you swallow frequently and regularly, you move the mucous from the windpipe directly into the stomach. This is why lozenges, life-savers, or chewing gum can help such a cough.

Other coughs arise directly from irritation in the throat. Again this can be a result of allergies, but is also due to sore throat from viral or bacterial infection. In this case, there is often pain on swallowing, and often a “tickle” in the throat is felt.

What about the severe hacking cough in the night?

A common and annoying cough occurs – usually later in the Winter – after a brief “cold.” Runny nose, sinus pressure, and sore throat progress into the lungs as a hacking cough that interferes with sleep. The annoying characteristic is that even once the acute illness is over, the cough may linger for 3 or 4 weeks or sometimes longer. This usually is related to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) or another related virus. RSV is not life-threatening, but can be very annoying – and the sleep deprivation is not trivial! Fortunately, an appropriately chosen eRemedy from eremedyonline.com/module/29/cough/ is usually effective. I (BG) personally experienced this one night at 3 AM – my cough disappeared within 3 minutes of playing an eRemedy just once!

When a “cold” or flu goes into the lungs and generates severe cough with fever and debility, the situation can be more serious. Again, eRemedies can be effective even for such a bronchitis or pneumonia, but it is also appropriate to go to a medical facility (if available) to get an X-ray or at least have someone listen to your lungs through a stethoscope.

Croup or Pertussis?

Coughs in kids are common, especially as toddlers and at daycare age when viruses are readily passed around by physical contact. Experienced parents learn not to be alarmed by these events and use techniques such as steaming (putting the child in the bathroom with the shower turned on full hot) to loosen mucous so the cough is more effective. Many people use humidifiers, but here there is a caution: humidifiers can breed mold easily if not properly cleaned by bleach on a daily basis!

A greater concern is when the cough becomes barking or “croupy.” Parents worry about pertussis, and there are flurries of media capitalizing on concern about lesser-vaccinated populations. Croup certainly can be an annoying problem. Sometimes antibiotics can be helpful, but often take awhile. eRemedies from eremedyonline.com/module-view/cough can be expected to work within a day or so. This can be tried first, then go for evaluation by a physician if available.