The common cough can usually be cured at home, says a British health think-tank and watchdog. So before heading down to the doctor’s and dosing up on over-the-counter meds, try raiding your kitchen cupboard first.
Pradeep Menon*, a marketing executive, found a persistent cough was beginning to disrupt his day.
When his cough started to break up his speech, and his throat became sore every time he had to swallow, Pradeep took himself to a doctor.
After being prescribed a dose of antibiotics, he found to his chagrin that the problem wasn’t clearing up.
Pradeep, 36, says: “I visited the doctor twice in less than a month, and the second time, I was asked to do a few tests, and they couldn’t find anything abnormal.
“I was asked to continue with a third course of antibiotics but each time, the medicines were making me weak, and I continued to cough.”
With antibiotics failing to give him any relief, Menon decided to avoid them, and instead chose a popular remedy that finally cured his cough.
He took honey, which is a traditional remedy for a sore throat. After a week of taking it, his cough cleared up.
According to a new guideline from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK, honey should actually be one of the first lines of treatment for people with coughs.
In a report last month from NICE, Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines, said: “We are keen to highlight that, in most cases, antibiotics will not be necessary to treat a cough. We want people to be offered advice on alternatives that may help ease their symptoms.”
So in the time-honoured tradition of what your grandmother used in the days before Lemsip or Beechams powders, here are a few home remedies to help you get rid of that cough.
At home, you can create your remedy by mixing up to two teaspoons of honey with warm water, lemon, and ginger. The honey does the soothing, while the lemon juice can help with congestion. Ginger can calm your stomach or nausea.
Peppermint leaves make up a well-known remedy for cough relief. Peppermint contains menthol, which can help soothe sore throats and dry coughs. It’s also a decongestant that can break down mucus. You can either drink peppermint tea or inhale peppermint vapours from a steam bath. To make a steam bath, add three or four drops of peppermint to hot water. Cover your body with a towel or a blanket and take deep breaths directly above the water.
Staying hydrated is important for those with a cough. Research indicates that drinking water at room temperature can alleviate a cough. Two litres of water is the daily recommendation for the average adult. Water can help ease congestion caused by colds, preventing post-nasal drip that can irritate the throat, and keeps your throat from drying up.
* The name in this article has been changed