December 12, 2014 by Dr. Sana Keller
Do you need antibiotics? Maybe some steroids? A prescription cough syrup with Codeine? Maybe some special breathing treatments? Usually, the answer would be no…no…no…and no. Stay tuned ‘til the end of this brief posting to learn of when it is appropriate to seek medical attention.
A recent study from the Annals of Family Medicine journal showed that antibiotic overuse for acute cough is in part due to a mismatch between patients’ expectations and the natural history of an acute cough illness. Their study revealed actual duration of an acute cough illness from the medical literature of approximately 18 days, yet many people seek treatment for their cough (expecting an antibiotic prescription) after just 4-5 days.
The scenario situation that was presented to participants in the study: Suppose that you get sick and the main symptom is a cough. You are coughing up yellow mucus and have a slight fever (100.5 degrees). You are not taking any medicine for the cough. About how long do you expect that it will take from the time you first feel sick until the time where you feel well and the cough is gone? Many respondents thought 4-5 days was a typical time frame—when, as you just read, the typical duration of an acute cold illness may be up to 18 days. The realization of the TRUE duration time provides understanding on why antibiotics are usually NOT needed in the recovery process. Therefore, antibiotics are usually NOT needed during recovery of a cold/cough illness (especially since most colds are viral infections and antibiotics treat bacterial infections). This becomes an even bigger issue with the rise in antibiotic-resistant organisms, which make it even more important to only take antibiotics when truly indicated.
This puts the focus on how best to ‘deal’ with your cough during this time of recovery. Below is a list of some Safe, Natural, and Effective Cough Remedies. Although the basics of a healthy lifestyle are still key in recovery (quality sleep, whole foods, basic nutrient supplementation, and appropriate exercise), these simple remedies can help minimize coughing and strengthen your immune system.
- Honey (raw), Lemon, and Coconut Oil Syrup (see above)
- Raw honey and cinnamon
- Thyme tea with raw honey and lemon
- Ginger tea with raw honey and lemon
- Marshmallow root tea
- Mullein tea
- Gypsy Cold Care Tea (Traditional Medicinals)
- Cayenne syrup (¼ teaspoon cayenne—1 TBSP raw honey—2 TBSP water—1 TBSP apple cider vinegar—1/4 Tsp ground ginger
- Hyland’s Cough (homeopathic)
- B&T Cough & Bronchial Syrup (homeopathic)
- Umcka Cold & Flu (homeopathic)
- Warm salt water gargle
- Stay well-hydrated
- Warm steam with eucalyptus oil
When should a person seek medical attention for a cough?
- If the cough has persisted more than 2 weeks and has not improved
- If it becomes hard to breathe/catch your breath
- If you get worse after partially recovering
- If you develop a high fever
- If your sputum looks bloody or rusty
By the way, the above study was sponsored by the supported by the Institute for Evidence-Based Health Professions Education at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Sounds like a great institute!
Reply back below with your favorite natural cough remedy–I look forward to hearing from you!
Sana Keller, PhD, RN, CNC http://www.healthunlimited.biz
Photo credits: zonapellucida.wordpress.com, kevinmd.com, altering-perspectives.com, alessiapearl.blogspot.com, care2.com