Just when you’ve settled down to sleep or read, you feel this little tickle at the back of your throat and the next thing you know, there’s an unstoppable cough! cough! COUGH!
Coughing is a sudden explosion of air from the lungs that is designed to clear materials (fluid, sputum or objects) from the airways. A cough can be dry, wet, irritating, spasmodic or painful. A cough can be productive, where yellow to green sputum may be coughed up. A cough can also cause difficulty breathing, night waking, difficulty talking and even give off “musical” sounds, such as a loud rattle over the chest (fluid in the lungs).
A cough is a symptom of many diseases, ranging from the common cold to a heart attack. In most cases, a cough is benign. A persistent long-term cough, however, should always be checked out by a licensed healthcare practitioner.
Below, are a few signs and symptoms for you to note and report to your health practitioner. High fevers or coughing up blood should always be regarded as situations where medical care is needed.
When the cough started and how long you’ve had it
What triggers the cough, e.g. cold weather, exercise, nighttime
Sputum production and color, if any
Coughing up blood, if any
Any fever, chills or sweats
Any pain in the throat or chest
Any difficulty breathing
Time of the day when the cough occurs
Worse in any position
A number of herbs that have been shown to be helpful in treating a cough; here are a few:
Marshmallow is not just the fluffy white candy treat. Marshmallow the herb, also called by its Latin name Althea officinalis, has been shown to treat coughs and sore throats. Studies have shown that due to its high mucilage content, this plant is soothing to inflamed mucous membranes.