When we hear a person coughing next to each other, the first thing that came up to our mind is usually the thought of having a cold. One of his first symptoms is a dry cough. A dry cough is also sometimes described as tiring, suffocating, persistent or larynx. Its treatment consists of soothing throat irritations and administering drugs that inhibit the cough reflex.
Wet and dry cough
After a short time, a dry cough may turn into a wet cough, combined with expectoration of inflammatory secretions. The administration of substances thinning excess phlegm and facilitating expectoration helps in dealing with a wet cough. A cold usually lasts up to a week, but the consequence may be a dry cough that lasts up to two weeks.
Causes of cough
A cough may not always be associated with a cold. Its causes may also lay somewhere else. We usually come to this conclusion if we do not have any other symptoms of a cold or if the cough medicines we take help only for a short time.
A dry cough in children can be one of the symptoms of allergies. It is characteristic in this situation that the cough disappears after removing the sensitizing agent from the child’s immediate surroundings.
In turn, dry cough in adults can be caused by taking certain medications, e.g. blood pressure-lowering preparations, belonging to the group of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. They can be recognized by the name of the active substance that ends in -pril (e.g. enalapril, perindopril). Approximately 10-20% of users of these drugs may complain of a dry cough. In this situation, it is necessary to consult a doctor and change to a drug with a different composition.
People who smoke cigarettes can also suffer from smoker’s cough. It is persistent and wet, and the only way to get rid of it is simply to stop smoking.
Gastroesophageal reflux may also cause dry cough. The hydrochloric acid then gets from the stomach into the oesophagus, which can cause throat irritation. An immediate visit to the doctor is necessary if, in addition to coughing, there are other symptoms, such as breathing problems, chest pain, chronic heartburn, coughing up blood or night sweats. This can point to a much more serious disease, which is why long-term cough should not be underestimated.
Cough herbs in the past and now
Until the second half of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of drugs were of plant origin. Also, cough medicines in children and adults were based on natural ingredients. Some of them are successfully used even in modern medicine.
An example would be a marshmallow root. It was used by doctors in ancient Rome, in Arabic countries and in traditional Chinese medicine. It is also currently an effective and safe medicine for dry cough in children. Its action is due to the presence of mucous substances that coat and moisturize the throat surface. Thanks to this, it is an effective and safe medicine for soothing irritation caused by a dry cough. Preparations containing marshmallow root extract can be given to children from 3 years old.
Other cough herbs rich in mucous substances include plantain leaf, mullein flower and licorice root. They are also components of cough medicines. Extract from licorice root, in addition to mucus, contains a significant dose of potassium, which can affect the level of this mineral in the body and blood pressure. In native North American people, the remedy for dry cough was red elm bark. In the United States, it is still widely used.
An expectorant, used in wet cough since the earliest times, was thyme herb. Thyme oil is a rich source of phenolic compounds (thymol, carvacrol) with expectorant and bactericidal properties. These properties were already known in ancient times, especially in Egypt and Greece regions. Currently, thyme preparations can also be easily obtained from pharmacies.