With the winter months kicking off in full force, the flu is on the rise. But there is another vicious virus going around that is becoming well known for the unwelcomed amount of time it’s sticking around in our bodies. If it seems that everyone around you is suffering from some form of a cold intermingled with coughing and congestion, it’s because this year’s winter virus includes a nagging bad cough that just won’t seem to go away.
The Seemingly Unbeatable Virus
For weeks now, there have been reports of multiple illnesses, including gastrointestinal sickness. But the most common has been illnesses that include severe respiratory irritation and infection. Unlike the flu that can strike suddenly, the symptoms of this virus can start from small complications to symptoms that may require a visit to the emergency room. We all know how annoying congestion and coughs can be, especially when they affect our sleep, or when they just won’t go away.
Coughing can help keep your throat clear from phlegm and other irritants in your body. However, sustained coughing can also be symptomatic of conditions such as allergies or viral or bacterial infections. This current virus has left the looming complaint that while the virus itself seems to be sticking around longer than average, the cough continues to annoyingly linger as well. And when viruses stick around for more than several days, you need to pay attention to make sure it has not turned bacterial.
Dr. Kenneth Patton of Bethesda North Hospital said, “Recently we have been seeing a big surge of the upper respiratory type of symptoms, the cough the congestion, the feeling really short of breath. A common cold to you and me, maybe a very serious pneumonia or illness for others like elderly or children.” Bacterial infections can be treated with medications and ER administered IV fluids for rehydration purposes, but upper respiratory infections are solely viral and have no treatment to aid symptoms.
Natural Cough Remedies
To prevent you from catching the virus, washing your hands and attempting to steer clear from those who are potentially sick can be helpful, but sometimes it just becomes unavoidable. But there are ways you can help soothe and calm your coughing. If you become one of the unlucky victims of the widely spreading winter bugs, here are some natural remedies to help aid that pesky cough.
- Honey – Honey has always been a popular go-to for natural home remedies in soothing sore throats and aiding discomforts from coughing. It has even been known to relieve a cough sometimes better than over the counter cough suppressants. Mix 2 teaspoons of honey with herbal tea or warm water and lemon. The honey will help soothe while the lemon will help with congestion. A simple spoonful of honey can also be taken to help soothe.
- Probiotics – Probiotics have a slew of health benefits. They may not help directly with your cough, but they are a microorganism that can provide balance for your gastrointestinal flora living in your intestines. Having this balance can provide support in your overall immune system and how it functions. This can reduce the likelihood of catching a cold or the flu as well as help calm sensitivities to certain allergens like pollen.
- Bromelain – You may not have heard of bromelain before, but it is an enzyme found typically in the stem and fruit of pineapples. Eating a slice of pineapple or drinking about 3.5 ounces of fresh pineapple juice several times a day can help suppress coughs, plus loosen mucus you may have in your throat. *Note that bromelain supplements should not be taken by children or adults who take blood thinners, or if you are on antibiotics such as amoxicillin.
- Peppermint – Peppermint also has multiple healing properties. The menthol in peppermint soothes throats while doubling as a decongestant, breaking down mucus. Peppermint tea, or inhaling vapors from a steam bath are great ways to reap the benefits of peppermint.
- Marshmallow – Did you know that marshmallow is made from Althaea officinalis, a perennial that blooms in summer? Since ancient times, the leaves and roots have been used to treat sore throats while suppressing coughs. Marshmallow coats the throat and calms irritations. Though not recommended for children, marshmallow root can be taken in tea or capsule form.
- Thyme – Thyme can help relieve coughing as well as aid in short-term bronchitis. The essence extracted from thyme contains compounds called flavonoids that relax throat muscles from severe coughing while lessening inflammation. Making a cup of tea at home using 2 teaspoons of crushed thyme to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, and strain.
Preventing and treating a cough is helpful, but also be sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated as your body works to fight the virus. It’s important to seek medical treatment is your cough continues to worsen or persist, but especially if it is affecting your abilities to breathe properly, causing you to cough up blood, or leads you developing a fever.