Cold weather brings with it not only increased cold and flu viruses, but one of the most irritating symptoms accompanying this type of illness is a cough. In addition, many patients infected with the H1N1 virus are finding that the cough that can accompany the H1N1 flu is a cough that seems to lodge deep inside the  lung tissue as the virus seems to infect tissues further down in the lungs than the normal respiratory viruses that we were previously used to seeing. 

We asked our readers to write in and share their top rated remedies for helping relieve cough symptoms.  Coughing can either be productive, meaning that there is fluid or mucous that you are expelling, or non-productive,  in which case your cough is “dry” and you are not having any type of secretions or sputum that is produced. Coughing can make resting or sleeping difficult, but there are some helpful hints you can use to help your body recover from a cough that is caused by a virus.

Of course, you should check with your doctor or physician if you are concerned about your cough, but if you’ve been checked out by your medical practitioner and told to go home, rest, and recover, here are some tips that may help you reduce the effects of coughing and mucus.
1. Drink increased fluids: This is especially important if you have a fever to prevent dehydration, and if you have a productive cough with increased mucus. Although mucus is normal for all of us and we need it to protect our respiratory tissues from drying out, when we have a cold or a flu virus, sometimes the body seems to produce thick amounts of mucus that clogs our airwaves and can make our lives miserable. By making sure that we are staying hydrated, we can thin the mucus which will make it easier to cough up and this, in time, will help relieve our cough symptoms.  How much water do you need?  At least 8 glasses a day is a minimum, but many medical professionals are now saying it is better to calculate your water needs by dividing your body weight in half and then drinking that amount in ounces. This means that if someone weighs 180 pounds, that they should be drinking 90 ounces of fluids per day.

2. Warm liquids are best: (Use hot tea with honey) to both soothe the throat, break up secretions, and help with coughing.  As you are drinking your hot tea, hold it up closer to your face so that you can benefit from the steam. (Be careful, don’t burn yourself!) In a research study done by a team at Pennsylvania State College it was found that honey at bedtime worked as well as either no treatment or treatment with dextromethorphan (DM) which is a cough suppressant found in many over the counter cough medicines. Some readers swear by adding a little lemon to their tea and honey.  Never give children under 2 years old honey and as always if you have any doubts, or if you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes, it is always best to consult with your doctor before trying any remedy.

3. Steam a  Bowl of Water for Congestion: If you have a lot of congestion, try putting your head over a bowl of steaming water (be careful not to get your face too close to the bowl) and add in a drop each of eucalyptus oil and lavender oil.  These oils are anti-viral and can also help open up the airways along with the steam. It works great if you cover your head with a towel so that you can get the effect of steam without having to shower several times a day.

4. Hot Showers or Baths: Bathing or taking showers especially every morning and night and if you close the door to your bathroom will help again with congestion and thinning out the mucus so that you can cough it up more easily.

5. Sleeping with a humidifier: The dry air that is created especially during the winter months when heating systems are frequently running can wreak havoc on our respiratory systems. Having some moisture in the air, especially while sleeping can help reduce the dry mouth syndrome that can make coughs worst especially if you are sleeping with your mouth open because your sinus passages are clogged from a cold. If you are using a humidifier make sure to read the instructions for keeping the water clean and follow the instructions on the humidifier for changing the water frequently.

6. Have a Soda: Club Soda that is: Some physicians are recommending the use of club soda to loosen thickened mucus from the throat. It’s best to purchase the club soda in smaller bottles because this only works if the carbonation from the liquid remains intact.

7. Try this Antioxidant for Reducing Lung Congestion: This is one of those products that can really help with reducing the amount of mucus in the lungs and getting rid of congestion. It is an antioxidant that can actually help break up mucus. I heard this tip from a friend who is a Respiratory Therapist and she said that this particular product has another name when used in a hospital setting but has the same properties as what the Respiratory Therapists use in the hospital for  patients with excessive mucus problems.  Ask your doctor about dosage recommendations but you can buy this over the counter without a prescription.

8. Over The Counter Expectorants: If you are having a productive cough, you may want to try an expectorant that contains guaifenesin, which can also thin mucus. There are normally varieties available both over the counter and in prescription  strength. Also, if you are coughing up mucus or secretions, make sure to spit them out and do not re-swallow any mucus as this will just add to your congestion problems.

9. Speak to your pharmacist as well if you have questions about using over the counter medications and/or if you are on any prescription medications. It is always best to speak with your pharmacist or doctor before adding in any non-prescription medicine, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or if you are already taking medication. Just because something is available over the counter doesn’t mean it is safe or it is safe to combine with other medicines you may be using.  Also take particular care with children who are sick to consult your physician and/or pharmacist as there are some products which are not safe for children that are safe for adults.

10. Sleep with your Head Elevated: Keeping your head elevated is very important when dealing with a cough especially one that is productive. If your head is too low mucus can drip back into your throat and or lungs, and keeping your head slightly raised can also help reduce any drainage that can exacerbate a cough. Finally, allow yourself some time to rest! Coughing takes up a lot of energy, and so in addition to the tips we’ve shared with you on some remedies to help relieve your cough, it is important to include time to rest and recover.

If you have a tip on coughs and congestion remedies that you’d like to share, please write in and let us know! Thanks for reading and be sure to bookmark this post so that you’ll have tips on reducing your cough before the next time that a cold or flu illness strikes.