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Monday, November 28, 2022

How To Choose The Best OTC Cough Medicine

For many people, coughing is one of the most annoying symptoms of a cold or flu. Naturally, we seek relief to end our discomfort and feel better. But which over-the-counter medications are the most effective? This short guide explains what you need to know about colds, flu, and coughing. You'll also learn about options in homeopathy medicine for dry cough.

Why We Cough When We're Sick

You may be surprised to learn that coughing does have a purpose. Its primary job is kicking out foreign invaders. Our central nervous system triggers the coughing reflex when it detects unwanted stuff in our airways — stuff like smoke, dust, pollen, food particles, and excess mucus.

When nerves in our airways detect foreign bodies, they send signals up the vagus nerve to the brain stem, which then signals back down the vagus nerve to activate the diaphragm and muscles near the ribs. Those muscles contract, the lungs fill will air and the epiglottis closes. Once the pressure in the lungs is at its highest point, the epiglottis reopens. That built-up air exits through the airways and the mouth, taking the foreign bodies out with it.

Consider Your Symptoms

Symptoms don't occur without causes, especially with upper respiratory infections. Coughing is meant to protect us from foreign invaders, including viruses and bacteria. These pathogens are extremely small, some measuring less than 0.1 microns in diameter. So, how does coughing help? Well, it's not coughing alone that does the job: Coughing plus mucus equals an eviction notice for viruses and bacteria.

Our immune systems prompt our bodies to produce more mucus in the upper respiratory tract, effectively sweeping up pathogens in a sticky tide of water, salt, proteins, lipids and loose DNA. Wet coughing expels all this mucus plus the microbes trapped inside. By comparison, dry coughing results from irritation in the airways. Wet coughing is productive: Dry coughing is not.

As you browse through cough pills online, you'll want to keep your symptoms in mind. Unproductive dry coughing can be addressed with a cough suppressant plus an antihistamine to calm overactive immune system responses. If coughing isn't the only reason for your discomfort, a multisymptom medication may be your best bet. Besides coughing, they also target congestion, running noses, watery eyes and body aches.

Understanding Labels

Checking out medication labels is always a good thing, especially with cough suppressant drugs. Traditional over-the-counter medications contain compounds like dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant, and guaifenesin, an expectorant that thins and breaks up mucus. However, some of these come with side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and stomach upset. Other compounds, such as the vasoconstricting decongestant pseudoephedrine, aren't recommended for people with chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Fortunately, alternatives to standard OTC meds can provide symptom relief without side effects. Some contain botanicals like echinacea and eucalyptus to target symptoms and boost immunity. Others, like Cough Control from Brillia Health, use antibodies to substances our bodies manufacture. Cough Control includes antibodies to bradykinin and histamines, two chemicals that can trigger coughing and chest congestion. Targeting these substances not only reduces symptoms, but they can also speed up recovery.

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