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Cough: Causes, Symptoms, and Natural Home Remedies


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Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.

A cough in most cases is not a sign of anything serious, this reflex or uncontrolled action is carried out by the body to clear the airways and respiratory system of mucus, irritants and other blockades.


A cough can be dry or chesty. A chesty cough produces mucus to help clear the airways while in a dry cough, mucus is lacking. Most coughs clear up on their own within three weeks but once it exceeds eight weeks, it is called a chronic cough.

Causes and Risk Factors of Coughs

There are many things that cause coughs but congestion in the airways or the presence of irritants and foreign substances is the main cause of coughs. The body triggers this reflex mechanism to clear the airways and the respiratory system in general.

Dehydration can cause coughs too, less amount of fluids in the body leads to congestion and sticky mucus in the airways. Intake of lots of fluids like clean water, herbal teas, unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies prevent dehydration and they loosen up congested mucus in the airways, thereby making it easy to be coughed out. Alcohols and caffeinated drinks should be avoided because they make you dehydrated.

Microbes such as viruses and bacteria can cause a cough, this is why a cough usually accompanies a respiratory tract infection like flu, colds, or other infections of the respiratory system.

Asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) pulmonary embolism which is the presence of blood clot in the lungs, cancer, and heart failure are some of the medical conditions that can cause coughs.

Don’t overuse nasal decongestant spray or don’t use it for more than three days in a row because it causes a rebound effect. Excessive use of these sprays make your nasal membranes inflamed and swell, this leads to more congestion, coughing, and postnasal drip.

This is why a persistent cough that lasts above eight weeks should not be ignored, especially you cough out blood. You need to see a doctor immediately so that the real cause can be diagnosed and treatment should start immediately.

Smoking is a main cause of coughs, it causes what is called “smoker’s cough”. This type of cough is chronic and it has a distinct sound. If you are a smoker, the only way to stop this type of cough is to quit.

Some medications like angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) used in the treatment of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases can cause coughs as a side effect. This type of cough can only be stopped when the medication is discontinued.


Signs and symptoms of Coughs

Signs and symptoms of coughs caused by an infection are:

  • A sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Sinus pressure
  • Vomiting
  • A runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Night Sweats
  • Sputum or phlegm (also seen in non-infectious coughs).

Signs and symptoms of non-infectious coughs are:

  • Coughs that only occur when one is exposed to certain irritants like smoke or chemicals.
  • Coughs that comes with wheezing
  • Coughs that improves with inhalers or medications for allergies
  • Coughs that worsen when one goes to a particular environment or participate in certain activities.

Effective Home Remedies for Coughs


This is an effective treatment for a dry cough. Take turmeric tea many times daily, add a teaspoon of black pepper to make the absorption of Curcumin easy. You can make use of either fresh turmeric roots or turmeric powder and make sure you use as much as you can handle.

You can grate or pound the fresh roots of turmeric if it is the fresh one you are using. Add a teaspoon of black pepper and boil this in clean water, you can also add cinnamon sticks or carom seeds.

This will boost the effectiveness. Boil all this until the water becomes half. Strain it and add honey if you please. Take this herbal tea three times daily.



The antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds present in garlic destroy microbes that cause coughs and infections. It soothes the respiratory system, relieves symptoms and enhances breathing.

Swallow fresh cloves of garlic, or you can crush them and add clove oil and honey, take this once daily. Add garlic to your meals during preparation.


Grapes serve as a natural expectorant, they eliminate mucus from the airways and makes it easy for the body to expel them. When the mucus is eliminated, the cough heals.

You can eat grapes or you make fresh homemade grape juice and take it regularly. Don’t add sugar or other artificial sweeteners, they serve as food for harmful microbes and this can worsen the symptoms especially if the cough is caused by a microbe.



Almonds heal the symptoms of coughs and boost the immune system. Soak 7 almonds in water for 10 hours and crush them till they form a smooth paste. Mix these with one teaspoon of organic butter and eat this four times daily until your symptoms clear away.


Studies have linked the deficiency of healthy bacteria to frequent infections, cough, cold and flu. A deficiency in probiotics or friendly bacteria could be responsible, take lots of fermented foods like organic yogurt, kefir, miso and apple cider vinegar and other fermented vegetables or cultured foods.

This will increase the level of probiotics and this, in turn, boosts the immune system and help the body fight off the infection. Probiotics are friendly bacteria found in the gut and other parts of the body, they fight harmful microbes and pathogens and boost a person’s immunity.


Cayenne pepper clears congestion in the airways and the respiratory tract. It also warms the body and it has a soothing effect. It stops coughs by expelling decongestions in the airways.

You can make an effective cough syrup by mixing the following together: a quarter teaspoon of ginger powder, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, two tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of ACV. Mix them thoroughly and take these three times daily.


SteamSteam produces a warm and moist air that helps to loosen and clear up mucus. It clears stuffy nose and makes breathing easy.

Pour boiled water into a wide bowl, and bend your head over it. Use a towel to cover your head, this prevents the steam from escaping and inhale the steam.

You can add spices and essential oil to boost the effectiveness; you can add ginger, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon essential oil or oregano oil.


MulleinThis is a great remedy for coughs, it has a soothing property and it eases coughs and inflammation. It was used by the ancient Greeks to heal coughs and it is still used till date for this same reason.

You can use the tea or use dried leaves of mullein, you can add marshmallow and honey to increase the effectiveness. This combination treats coughs, sore throat, inflammation and pain. It hastens the healing of a dry and irritating cough.



GingerThis is a strong remedy for coughs, it clears de-congestion, and it fights inflammation and relieves other symptoms of coughs. You can chew on the fresh ginger root when you are coughing.

You can also drink ginger tea many times daily, use as much ginger as you can handle. It relieves a sore throat, it fights a persistent cough, and it eliminates congestion. Add lemon juice and raw honey to make it more effective.


Quality dehydration is needed at this time to help reverse dehydration which is a main cause of coughs; it also helps the body expels toxins and irritants, it thins mucus and relieves congestions.

Take lots of clean water, fresh and unsweetened homemade fruit juices, herbal teas, smoothies and watery fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohols, they make the body dehydrated.


Raw honey is a great remedy for coughs, it is even recommended by the World Health Organization. Take two tablespoons of raw, original honey at regular interval during the day and take two tablespoons before going to bed at night to prevent a nighttime cough and to help you sleep better.

Take it also in the morning on an empty stomach. This will hasten healing, sooth the throat and treat the cough. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can kill the microbes responsible for a cough.


ThymeThis herb has been used for centuries to treat a lot of microbial infections including coughs; it treats bronchitis and it relieves and soothes the entire respiratory system.

Take it in tea form and you can make use of either the fresh or dried leaves of thyme. It is a great therapy for chesty coughs, it loosens mucus and hastens healing.


The juice of lemons treats coughs effectively, it fights microbes and inflammation. It is rich in vitamin C which boosts the immune system and hastens healing. Take lemon juice or lemon water daily. You can add a little cayenne pepper, and honey to lemon juice or you make a cough syrup by mixing a tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of honey. Take this syrup many times daily.


Onions are powerful home remedies for coughs, inhaling just the vapor alone can ease coughs. Use a strongly scented onion because the stronger the scent the more effective it will be.


Blend onions and juice it; take this juice in tablespoons at regular intervals during the day. You can add honey to boosts its effectiveness. This also soothes a sore throat and relieves other symptoms of coughs.

Gargle with Salt Water

Warm salt water relieves a sore and itchy throat. It flushes out infectious microbes and when done regularly, it prevents cold, cough and flu. Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of water and gargle with this. Do these three times daily till you get better. Don’t swallow it, spit out the water.


Carrots and fresh homemade carrot juice contain vital nutrients that help the body overcome the symptoms of coughs. Take lots of carrots daily when you are coughing. You can also juice them and add honey before taking it. Take these four times daily, do let us know if you need for help or guide.

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