The fever and achy muscles are gone, you're feeling much better, but that hacking cough is still hanging in there. While a cough that won't go away can be caused by something other than a cold (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis, allergies, pneumonia), for many, a nagging cough can linger around for up to three weeks after the other symptoms of a cold have passed. What can you do to get some relief? Here are a few non-over-the-counter suggestions:
1. Use a humidifier: Running a humidifier moisturizes the air, which helps sooth inflamed respiratory track tissues. There are different kinds of humidifiers on the market. A cool mist humidifier, which tends to be the least expensive, works fine. It provides the moisture, uses less energy than a warm mist humidifier, and prevents the risk of anyone getting burned.
2. Lay off the dairy: Dairy products are known to increase the build-up of mucus, which is the last thing we need to do while trying to rid our bodies of phlegm.
3. Water: Staying well-hydrated is always a good thing, optimizing our bodies' functioning, including our immune systems. While both warm and cool water can sooth raw throats, cool water has the added benefit of slightly reducing swelling.
4. Eat honey: Quality raw honey (in contrast to highly processed honey) is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and can be eaten by itself, in tea, or used in a number of home remedies for coughs and colds (see below.) A Penn State College of Medicine study tested the impact of nightly doses of buckwheat honey on children (ages 2-18) suffering from night time coughing and a respiratory track infection for 7 days or less. The study showed that night time coughing was reduced in children who took the honey, encouraging news in light of the FDA's recommendation that children not be given over the counter cold medicines due to potentially harmful effects.
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