In this blog, we are going to cover the two most common health issues: dry cough and itchy throat. Also, share the best home remedies for dry cough.
Voice is one of the most noted and important personality-building characteristics of a person. The source of this most important aspect of human personality is the throat where our voice box is present that produces the speech or our voice which is the primary form to convey our thoughts and feelings to other fellow human beings and leave an everlasting impact on them.
Words are very powerful, they can do anything including motivate, revolutionize and bring unbelievable change in the world. But a few aliments in our throat can create an obstacle in conveying the powerful voice freely to the universe. In this article, we will discuss two basic ailments of the throat that obstruct us from freely speaking or conveying our voice. This is nothing but the very common dry cough and itchy throat. Often, the two accompany each other.
Cough is quite common as it is a natural reflex for our body, but it becomes a hectic problem when it starts occurring frequently and disturbs our ease or comfort. In previous years the covid fatality that mankind has faced, increased the fear of coughing a lot more because it is the primary symptom of covid. Now, cough, especially dry cough, should be taken seriously and not be kept unbothered as it was 4 to 5 years ago.
Naturally, a cough is accompanied by a cold and sore throat during winter or due to heavy consumption of icy cold beverages, water, or desserts. It is cured easily on its own within weeks. But dry cough and itchy throat have no specific season for their occurrence. It occurs year-round throughout the season, and it is mainly a disease caused due to chemical or physical reasons rather than a seasonal disease.
Reason and Mechanism of Coughing
The tissue of our pharynx and larynx along with the trachea is made up of ciliated epithelium cells. The specialty of these cells is that they have cilia at their head. The cilia are tiny microscopic hair-like structures that constantly produce a unidirectional movement from the lungs to the mouth, simply a direction that leads to outside our body.
This movement of cilia is an in-built defense mechanism of our body to counter any foreign particles that have entered our body or specifically our airway. So, when any foreign particle enters the airway either via nose or mouth the cilia get agitated and make the ciliary movement more rapid and also send a stimulus to the brain to initiate a cough to throw the particle along with a gush of reserve volume of air from the lungs. In this process of coughing our external intercostal muscles contract and help us cough.
But if the foreign particle is more in number, or it is an allergen then the cough lasts and its frequency increases which leads to irritation in the throat and also the rapid movement of external intercostal muscles which also has an impact on the diaphragm and organs associated below it thus creating a pain in stomach and overall disturbance of ease in the whole body. External intercostal muscles have no action in normal breathing. It is only activated during forceful breathing. So, rapid movement of external internal costal muscles during coughing takes a lot of toll on our body as pain in the ribs, chest, and abdomen.
Reason for Itchy Throat
The only ones responsible for itchy throat or itchiness in any part of the body are mast cells. These are specific defense cells in our body that initiate the release of histamine upon encountering any foreign particle in the body. This histamine is responsible for inflammation in a particular region where the foreign particle has accumulated. Due to inflammation, the narrow capillaries get agitated and create a sense of itchiness.
The inflammation is the signal to macrophages or WBC (White blood corpuscles) to arrive at that location to neutralize the harmful foreign elements. In no time the inflamed area becomes the battlefield of the WBC and foreign particles leading to an experience of high fever and the formation of pus (dead WBC and waste) in the inflamed area. This is why during tonsillitis we feel a fever accompanied by an itchy throat. With time when the foreign antigen is eliminated the inflammation and itchiness slowly reduce.
Causes of Dry Cough and Itchy Throat
The causes of dry cough and itchy throat are either mechanical injury to tissue or caused due to chemical agents. The causes are as follows:
1) Effects of pollutants or SPM- pollutants, especially Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), are the major cause of acute dry cough. These are tiny pollutant particles that enter the airway and irritate the cells, causing heavy coughing. People working in factories or whose job profile compels them to be on busy roads are more prone to problems from SPM.
2) Allergy – Few edibles like brinjal, shrimp, nuts, taro plants, etc. are allergic. They have a certain chemical that stimulates histamine in our cells and leads to inflammation and allergy in the airway, causing itchiness in the throat accompanied by cough.
3) Not drinking water for too long – This makes the throat dry and the dry throat is more sensitive to particulate matter. Moreover, prolonged abstention from water causes dehydration due to which saliva and mucus form more and choke the airway.
4) Rhinitis – Rhinitis is commonly found in people with deviated nasal septum. Due to deviated nasal septum a ridge is formed in the airway of either of the two nostrils or sometimes both. The air when passing from these ridges the particulate matter gets collected in the ridge. This particulate matter over time causes inflammation and allergy causing sneezing and cough and the spread of infection in the whole airway.
5) Apnea – Apnea is a disease that is caused due to loosening of muscles in the mandibular region. Due to this air passage to the lungs is blocked. It mainly occurs during sleep and due to shortness of breath the patient wakes up with a sudden gush of cough. Apnea can be treated with facial exercises.
6) Infection – Infection in the throat can be a major factor in dry cough and itchy throat. Infection in the ears or tonsils can cause acute discomfort in the throat region. This infection is mainly by bacteria and in most cases strep throat (infection by streptococcus bacteria).
7) Whooping cough – This is more common in children and is caused by pertussis bacteria. In this disease, the child coughs frequently making a “whoop” like sound and that is why the name of the disease is whooping cough. This is a highly communicable disease and seriously affects the airway, creating a threat to the patient’s life.
8) Tuberculosis – Tuberculosis or TB is more or less known to everyone. It is fatal, if not treated early or properly.
In this disease, the lung is severely infected and its most common symptom is frequent dry cough in the early stages and later the cough accompanies by blood.
9) Flu or Covid-19- In the previous years’ mankind has faced the disaster of covid – 19; a fatal flu-like disease caused by a coronavirus. Though the fatality of covid has decreased a lot in 2023, it has not been completely eradicated. Dry cough is the primary symptom of covid. So, frequent coughing should be considered seriously in the present day.
10) acid reflux- Gastrointestinal reflux is the movement of acid mixed with a Chile sour burp sometimes enters into the windpipe and initiates a dry cough.
This is quite common and a problem for many people. Many readers might have entered this article for a solution to night cough. A few months back I was also suffering from a night cough. This is nothing but a sudden urge to cough more frequently as we lay down in our beds for a peaceful night’s sleep. This cough continues the whole night, leaving us unable to sleep. The only cause for this cough is post-nasal dripping.
Here the mucus in our nasal passage becomes water and drips down the throat from the back of our nasal passage as soon as we lay down to sleep. This drip of mucus on our throat initiates a cough and this goes on till we are lying on the bed. As soon as we get up there is no cough at all. Further, in this article, some remedies will help solve these problems.
Prevention of Dry Cough and Itchy Throat
Generally, on encountering the problem of dry cough or itchiness in the throat people ignore it. But with the persistence of the cough, it becomes difficult to speak, sleep and perform daily chores readily. The only solution most people seek is to go to a med store to buy only cough syrup and anti-histamine doses in the name of a cure that does nothing to cure the ailments but rather suppresses the cough and itchiness.
On intake of this medicine, there is an initial relief but as the root cause is not cured it becomes fatal with time, and at a point in time nothing works out as a cure. Surely there are a few simple steps to cure the dry cough and itchiness in the throat. But as told in my earlier articles, it is better to prevent than to cure. So, the emphasis should be more on prevention even before or after being affected. The agents of dry cough and itchy throat are mainly airborne and easily communicable from one person to another. So, the preventive measures are:
1) Wearing a mask in hotspot areas – Wearing a mask throughout the day is truly problematic, and we all encountered this situation a year back during the pandemic. But, in hotspot locations like a hospital, busy roads, and construction sites, we can wear a mask to ensure our safety. Even a normal cloth mask will protect against particulate dust and pollutants.
2) Also cover ears in high particulate matter areas – Our ear, nose, mouth, and throat are all interconnected. An infection in any might spread easily to the other. So, it is better to protect our ears from particulate matter. So also cover ears in areas where there are too many dust particles.
3) Avoid frequent consumption of cold items – Cold items like ice-chilled water from the refrigerator, ice creams, and chilled carbonated drinks should be consumed in limited quantities or after bringing them to room temperature in case of water and drinks. This should be followed even in summer because too much consumption of these can cause a strain on the throat leading to an itchy throat.
4) Maintain good oral health – Our mouth is the home to a vast and diverse microbiome. So, poor oral health can readily cause an infection that can spread to the throat.
5) Increase overall immunity – Overall immunity can be increased readily with good food, a healthy lifestyle, and daily exercise. A good and immune body can repel any disease easily.
Best Home Remedies for Dry Cough | Itchy Throat Home Remedy
A few simple home remedies can cure dry cough and itchy throat in no time. These home remedies are:
1) Betel Leaf tea – Betel leaf is the ultimate cure for cough. It has riboflavin and thiamine in it which helps relieve cough. For this tea, take 3 to 4 betel leaves and tear them into pieces. Now, take two glasses of water in a heating bowl and place the bowl on the flame.
Now, add the pieces of betel leaves to the water and let it boil until 1 glass of water is evaporated. You will know the perfect concoction is made when the green color of betel leaves will fade and the color of the water also changes to dark brownish. You will start getting a typical camphor-like odor from the concoction. Now, strain the concoction into a glass and drink it slowly when it becomes lukewarm.
2) Cloves – Cloves are a good replacement for cough relief lozenges that are rich in sugar and made from chemicals. Cloves contain certain anti-inflammatory compounds that help a lot with an itchy throat and cough. You can place a clove in your daily cough of tea or can simply keep it in your mouth as a lozenge.
3) Honey with Tulsi leaves – The benefits of Tulsi leaves are known to the whole world. Honey and Tulsi leaves when consumed together help a lot to get relief from dry cough as well as cold cough. Tulsi has both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Tulsi leaves also increase the overall immunity of the body.
4) Vapor inhalation – Inhaling vapor helps a lot to get relief from dry cough and itchy or sore throat. The vapor helps fight bacterial infection as most of the bacteria that generally infect the throat are not resistant to high temperatures. 5 minutes of daily vapor inhalation is pretty good. It also reduces post-nasal dripping.
5) Using eucalyptus oil and camphor balm – Eucalyptus oil and camphor balm are readily available all over India easily under local or brand labels. A few common balm companies are Vicks, Amrutanjan, Tiger Balm, etc. This balm can be found in any Ayurvedic store. Just apply the balm externally on the throat and chest, and externally on the sides of the nostrils. They help a lot to get relief from coughing.
6) Ginger – Ginger is a sure cure for itchy throat. Ginger has the most anti-inflammatory properties and having one teaspoon of ginger juice can really help reduce coughing.
7) Salt water gargle – Salt has antibiotic properties in it. So, salt water gargling twice a day can cure strep throat easily.
8) Eat healthy and on time – This will help reduce acid reflux.
These are the best home remedies for dry cough.
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Conclusion and Advice for Readers
Home remedies generally easily cure normal dry cough due to post-nasal drip, acid reflux, normal flu, or pollutants. Home remedies are great, but there are a few causes of profuse coughing that require extensive medical care that can only be treated in a hospital. These cases include Tuberculosis which is left untreated, lung cancer, etc. This is fatal. So, it is my humble request to the readers that if the problems persist after 4 to 5 days of trying the home remedies please immediately visit the nearest hospital and get a thorough health check-up. Because life is always valuable.
Q1. How long does it take for the remedies to show an effect on an itchy throat and dry cough?
It shows results very fast within a day or two but if the problem persists after 4 days then immediately visit the nearest hospital for a health check up.
Q2. Do I need to quarantine myself if I have a dry cough?
Seeing the present scenario the answer is yes for the safety of your family and friends. Because they might also come in contact with and acquire the disease. If quarantine is not possible at least maintain a few feet distance and cover your mouth with a handkerchief while coughing.
Q3. Does dry cough always mean covid?
No, not. Covid accompanies other secondary symptoms that you can know from the WHO website. So, first, check for the other symptoms and then if the majority of symptoms are present go to the lab for a test.
Q4. Is dry cough fatal?
Not at all. Just do not panic and follow the remedies. If results are not visible within 4–5 days then contact the hospital and you will be fine. Generally, dry coughs are not fatal in 90% of cases.