If you or your little one has developed a cough, have you stopped to think about what kind of cough you’ve come down with? Unfortunately, there are many people who don't know the difference between a chesty cough and a dry cough, and may not end up taking the right cough relief medicine for their condition.
So, let's make sure that we understand the different types of cough, as well as some natural remedies that may help each type.
If you have a chesty cough, you might feel heavy or discomfort in the chest and lung area, with congestion that may lead you to have a cough that feels ‘wet’ - this could leave you coughing up mucus or phlegm. This is why a chesty cough is also known as a wet or productive cough.
A chesty cough might occur after or during a cold, and can often feel worse after you wake up in the morning.
Chesty coughs are usually associated with excess mucus in the chest. While we don't often enjoy coughing it up, mucus can actually serve a really important role in trapping unwanted particles such as dust and bacteria in our airways. When we develop a cold, our bodies often produce more mucus in attempt to help expel the mucus and those unwanted particles. This excess mucus then triggers our cough reflex to help remove the extra phlegm. This process is called expectoration.
Chesty coughs are usually helped with medicines called expectorants, which is simply something that can help break up the mucus so that your body can more easily expel it.
There are a number of natural remedies that are expectorants that have been known about for a long time. Perhaps one of the best-known examples is simple hot water and steam—whether it's a hot shower, or a steaming cup of tea, warm moist air and better fluid intake can help loosen mucus in your airway.
Ivy Leaf is another well-known naturally sourced remedy for chesty coughs. To help ease congestion and coughs due to a cold, try a medicine like Prospan which contains a specific extract of Ivy leaf, or Hedera helix, known as EA 575. Clinical research shows that this ivy leaf extract helps thin and loosen mucus in the chest, which helps to make your coughs more effective and less frequent.
A dry cough, in contrast, is a cough where no mucus or phlegm is produced. These coughs are also known as non-productive coughs.
A dry cough is often irritating, and is associated with a tickly throat.
Dry coughs can also be caused by colds, but may also occur because of external irritants such as cigarette smoke, dust, smoke, or allergies. You probably know the sort of cough we're talking about here—it's the one that a non-smoker gets when they enter a smoky room or that someone who has grass allergies or hay fever will get when their throat gets irritated.
While there are a number of natural remedies that may help relieve dry coughs, one of the more well-known options is honey, which may help soothe the lining of the tissues at the back of the throat. A dry cough could also be helped with medicines known as antitussives, which can help in suppressing the cough.
However, if you know that there is a clear external trigger for your dry cough, then you will most likely be best served by helping remove that directly.