There are many potential causes for coughing, so the first step is to find out exactly what is causing it. For example, coughs can result from allergy, asthma, acid reflux, overly-dry air, and smoke or other air pollution (including self-inflicted smoke from cigarettes).
Assuming that none of these causes are present (or there’s been no change), but you have started to cough a lot recently, then it’s likely that you have a chest infection of some kind, either viral (most likely) or bacterial.
The type of cough you are experiencing also affects the cough remedies you can choose from. Dry, tickly coughs (sometimes called hacking coughs) are the type that are most likely to wake you up at night – along with your partner if they’re a light sleeper.
Productive, phlegmy or chesty coughs are less annoying, but probably more unpleasant to deal with. On the other hand, at least once you’ve expelled the phlegm, the coughing tends to stop, so you’re more likely to be able to sleep and avoid disturbing other family members.
Links to all the recommended remedies are at the bottom of the post.
1. Stay hydrated
It’s important to stay hydrated, so the first thing I would recommend is that you drink lots of herbal tea. There are a variety of herb teas to choose from. The best for a dry cough is probably liquorice or marsh mallow (the herb, not the candy!), and for a chesty cough black pepper or ginger tea is great. Add honey, which is healing in its own right besides making the flavours a bit less in your face.
2. Steam inhalation
A steam inhalation is a great help when dealing with coughs and similar respiratory conditions. You need a big flat bowl of very hot water and a towel to cover your head. Add essential oil of your choice from this selection:
For a dry cough choose from bay laurel, cypress, ginger and peppermint,
or for a chesty cough select from bergamot, cedarwood Virginian, Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum), marjoram sweet or myrrh.
Just put a few drops of the oil into the hot water, then lean over it and use the towel to enclose your head and the bowl in the steam. This is an old remedy, but it still works just as well.
You can also make a home remedy for your cough: a mixture of turmeric powder and honey is a powerful healer. Another turmeric based Indian remedy called Haldi doodh is made by stirring half a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass of hot milk. Drink it while it’s still warm.
4. Suck on a cough drop
I recommend Manuka honey lozenges or other natural cough sweets. Go for sweets which contain menthol if buying from a local store. Avoid the ones that are sugar free because, apart from the fact that most sugar substitutes are based on chemicals which can be harmful, you also miss out on the natural volatility of sugar or honey which helps to relieve congestion and soothe your throat.
These simple remedies for coughs will help you get back on top much quicker than you expect. But remember, if any condition persists for more than a few days, or worsens to the extent that you become at all worried, it’s time to take a trip to your doctor’s surgery.