7 Ways to Beat a Chronic Cough
A chronic cough can significantly impair your quality of life and affects an estimated 10% of the adult population (20). It may be the cause of pollutants circulating in the dry air around you but chronic coughing may also be a sign something more serious is impeding on your health.
What is causing your swollen airways making your breathing so obstructive that you can’t concentrate during the day or fall asleep at night? Associated with several health disturbances, chronic coughing can be a challenging symptom to treat without an understanding of how your overall health affects breathing.
Learn why your cough may be lingering by identifying additional symptoms you may have. The 7 ways that follow will help you find relief from your chronic cough faster and give your body the time and tools it needs to recover naturally.
Identify the Cause of the Cough
One seemingly simple problem that affects more of us than not is stress. Stress depletes the body of its vital resources needed to fight off what may just be a cold. If you are feeling overwhelmed and you may be pushing your body beyond its limitations, receiving adequate rest and relaxation may be just what the doctor orders.
Inadequate hydration can also be the source of your cough. Are you swapping out your caffeinated beverages during the morning and afternoon for an alcoholic drink in the evening? Both of these fluids increase dehydration which contributes to thickening phlegm, reduced moisture in your airways and a chronic cough.
Underlying Health Ailments
Maintaining awareness of other symptoms that may affect the respiratory tract is key to identifying the cause of your chronic cough. Ask yourself if you have any other symptoms such as:
- Heartburn or acid reflux: Often accompanied with a chronic cough may be symptomatic of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease);
- Burping: Digestive disturbance; or
- Loud snoring, repetitive awakenings or gasping at night: May be associated with obstructive sleep apnea.
A common reason may be either the cold or flu and in general an overwhelmed immune system. The average adult is stricken with a cold about 3 times a year while kids are more susceptible to viruses and can battle a cold 10 times annually (1).
Unlike a cold which affects the nose and throat, the flu virus can make you more ill because it also affects the lungs (2). If your cough worsens and is accompanied with fever and chills, there is no time hesitate building up your immunity.
B12 Deficiency and Chronic Cough
Vitamin B12 deficiency is not only common but it may be a serious problem that is contributing to your chronic cough and weakening your overall health. Individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency have been shown susceptible to having constricted airflow, inflammation of the larynx, and nerve damage that can contribute to coughing (18).
One early sign of B12 deficiency is elevated homocysteine levels associated with a high concentration of histamine in the body. Exceeding this threshold of histamine in the respiratory tract results in a chronic cough unexplainable by the individual. It is a consequence of sensory neuropathy and can become toxic condition. Vitamin B12 deficiency induces this increased stimulation of nerve impulses. (18, 19)
If you believe vitamin B-12 deficiency may be contributing to your cough and you are experiencing other related symptoms, speak with your physician before the deficiency increases and inflammatory diseases develop.
Foods to Avoid For Chronic Cough:
When recovering from a cough that is wearing you down, it is best to avoid certain foods that trigger inflammation and can cause further obstruction to your respiratory system. It may seem counterintuitive to avoid some of these foods.
We have assumed throughout our childhood that many marketed cough suppressants and immune boosters are good for fighting a cough and cold. In fact many of these “treatments” like lozenges contain key ingredients we should be avoiding or they simply do not contain enough of the nutrients our body demands.
Here is a list of 5 foods you should eliminate:
- Conventional Dairy: Conventional dairy is pasteurized, can thicken mucus and increase inflammation.
- Chocolate: Can stimulate the production of mucus.
- Processed Foods: Additives in processed foods begin a cascade of inflammatory responses that weakens the immune system taking away from the body’s ability to heal pre-existing concerns. Many processed foods also contain GMOs that contribute to the same harmful inflammatory response and may also increase mucus production.
- Sugar: Sugar drains the body of its natural defenses to aid against inflammation and infection. One way it does this is by depleting the white blood cells that attack pathogens weakening your natural immune response.
- Fruit Juice: Not only do fruit juices contain high amounts of sugar, but they also do not contain enough vitamin C that your body needs for recovery. Instead of sipping on orange juice, consider eating vitamin C rich whole fruits and vegetables including bell peppers, kale, papaya, strawberries, kiwi and Brussel sprouts. Eating the fibrous pulp of fruits will prevent your insulin levels from spiking which again contributes to weakened immunity.
7 Natural Cough Remedies:
1) Bone Broth
Bone broth is an easy and effective remedy you can incorporate into your daily routine to find symptom relief. Bone broth soothes sore and tired muscles, hydrates the respiratory tract and contains powerful immune system healing nutrients.
Broths from either grass-fed beef bones or pastured chickens release amino acids glycine and proline. These nutrients help repair tissue damage and fight infection. The magnesium and potassium bone broths contain can also ease pain in the chest resulting from a constant cough. (23, 24)
Some of the best vegetables you can add to bone broths include dark leafy greens, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, cruciferous vegetables, bell peppers and onions. These veggies are rich in vitamin C, chlorophyll, sulfur, zinc and other nutrients that encourage a strong immune system. Use bone broth to prepare soups, stews and add a variety of herbs for healing.
2) Eat Light & Hydrate Well
Receiving much needed rest and relaxation that comes with boosting your immune system and fighting off a chronic cough is not the optimal time to be snacking on the couch. Your body uses energy for digestion that is much better redirected to healing when ill.
Consuming easy to digest foods that promote immunity is best for recovery. Eat foods rich in probiotics such as grass-fed dairy like kefir and yogurt. Supplement your hunger with light and nutritious foods like citrus fruits and almonds.
Drinking adequate amounts of water should go without saying but is often something many of us need a reminder to do. Drinking purified water frequently hydrates the respiratory system that can have accumulating substances like mucus making breathing difficult. Water loosens phlegm making it less of an irritant to your airways.
Stimulates Detoxification: Hydration to the body is also essential to boosting detoxification processes responsible for flushing toxins and biological pathogens from tissue. Infusing lemon juice and adding apple cider vinegar to your water is an excellent way to rebuild the supply of antioxidants your damaged lungs and throat need to repair swollen tissue (3).
When you consider that the majority of your body is made up of water, you should strive to drink at least 2 glasses of water within 30 minutes of waking up and actively drink water throughout the day.
3) Immune Strengthening Herbs
Herbs seem to aid in treating almost any ailment when it comes to immune health. Some of the best are garlic, ginger, and oregano. These herbs are anti-inflammatory, stimulate a healthy immune response because of their potent antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.
Garlic: Contains a sulfur containing compound called allicin that enhances the antioxidant defense system aiding in effective detoxification (4).
Ginger: By increasing the antioxidant powerhouse glutathione, ginger is loaded with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. More than 400 unique compounds are concentrated in ginger which encourage healing. Some of the most abundant are vitamins A, polyphenols gingerol and shogaeol, amino acids and phytosterols (6).
Oregano: The oils found in oregano destroy E. coli and bacteria that cause pneumonia. Oregano has even been shown to be an alternative remedy in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (5)
4) Herbal Teas
Herbal teas may be some of the best ancient remedies used to relieve a cough and cold. A variety of hot herbal teas provide soothing relief from coughing and provide immune protection.
Herbal teas have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation and improve immune health (7). They provide a potent source of vitamins and antioxidants from the herb, peel or citrus extract.
Today, herbs remain an important part of medicine despite medical advancements. Their strong anti-inflammatory properties they contribute to health and healing are unparalleled with synthetic drugs. Common herbal teas used to treat symptoms of cough include purple Echinacea, lemon, ginger, and chamomile. (8, 9)
5) Chiropractic Care
Spinal manipulation can help remove interferences and spinal imbalances that can weaken the immune system. Chiropractic care can be beneficial at applying pressure below the collarbone to remove obstructions that may be contributing to difficulty breathing and chest congestion and consequently your chronic cough (10).
Receiving regular chiropractic care improves your health by keeping your immune system running optimally. Studies reveal that patients who receive chiropractic care have an increase in circulating leukocytes to combat infectious agents and protect against inflammation (11).
6) Diffuse Essential Oils
Whether your cough is triggered by a weakened immune response exacerbated by stress or caused by infection, aromatherapy can provide you tremendous relief. The volatile compounds diffused into the air from essential oils destroys infectious agents like viruses and other pathogens.
- Decreases cortisol levels for stress relief
- Reduces anxiety
- Improved cognitive function
- Relieves muscle aches
- Boost mood
Eucalyptus oil is commonly used as a decongestant while peppermint oil can provide relaxing relief to sore and tight muscles in and around the chest. A mixture of eucalyptus and peppermint oil can help you find cough relief at night so that you can sleep.
Add a few drops of each oil to a diffuser or mix with vitamin E or grapeseed oil to prepare a homemade chest rub. You can also add these oils to a bath before bedtime to help break up mucus congestion in your chest and open up your breathing passageway.
7) Immune Support and Chronic Cough
Consider taking a whole foods based supplement while your symptoms persist. Combining vitamin and mineral supplementation with the 6 previous strategies to beat a chronic cough will have your symptoms disappearing in no time.
Vitamin C: Take 2,000 mg vitamin C containing bioflavonoids 3 to 4 times daily for a synergistic health response. Vitamin C helps repair damaged tissue in the respiratory tract. Researchers have provided support that this immune boosting antioxidant destroys pathogens, regulates the synthesis of white blood cells and reduces the need for the body to waste its glutathione stores on reusing old vitamin C. (12, 13) I personally use our Super C, which has a 1:1 combination of vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids.
Zinc: Increase the activity of your antioxidant defense systems glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase) by supplementing with 20 mg of zinc every 3 hours while awake or about 3 to 4 times daily. Many individuals are deficient in this vital mineral due to unhealthy lifestyle influences. Zinc suppresses viral activity, inhibits oxidative stress and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. (14) We use Zinc Charge, which is a zinc glycinate form for ideal absorption.
Vitamin B12: The most effective way to supplement vitamin B12 is to take 5,000 mcg of a sublingual spray. Look for a liquid methylcobalamin which is most available for use in the body upon absorption (21). B12 will help improve nerve function, support tissue repair, lower homocysteine levels and reduce inflammation (22). We recommend B12 Power