Treatment for cough

Treatment for cough: ‘Honey & Cough medicine’

As a result of the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, health professionals have been giving new health guidelines. These health guidelines urge health professionals to use natural remedies instead of antibiotics as a treatment for cough. New guidelines recommend honey as the first-line natural remedy for cough together with other cough medicines.

To better understand this article, we are going to look at the definition, phases, causes, and treatment of a cough. We also look at what antibiotic resistance entails, and why honey is proffered as a first-line treatment for cough.

Do we have a definition for cough, or we think it’s a sound we make when there is an obstruction in our breathing passages to aid us in the optimal functioning of our body? Well, here is the definition of a cough below.

Definition of a cough

A tussis, or as it is more popularly known by, a cough is an involuntary or voluntary action that clears the throat and breathing passage of foreign particles, irritants, microbes, mucus, fluids.

The act of coughing is a process of rapid expulsion of air from the lungs. Indeed, coughing can be an indication of severe illness. Infectious diseases cause most coughs, such as a common cold. However, coughs also occur due to non-infectious disease, and most times, this type of cough, usually goes away, without any medical intervention.

The act of coughing can be annoying, especially if it springs up on you in public. As annoying as it may be, it is good to know that coughing is one of the body’s defense mechanisms, as it helps the body protect or heal itself.

Categories of a Cough

A cough can either be chronic or acute:

Acute coughs:

These occur suddenly, and their duration is no longer than two to three weeks. Acute coughs usually accompany the flu, cold, or acute bronchitis.

Chronic cough:

Chronic coughs occur gradually and last longer than three weeks. This type of cough can also be regarded as a persistent or nagging cough. Please, if you have a persistent cough, call your doctor.

Phases of a cough

A cough usually occurs in three phases

  • Phase one

Breathing in or Inhalation

  • Phase two

In this stage the vocal cords are closed, consequently leading to increased pressure in the throat and lungs

  • Phase three

The vocal cords are opened, therefore giving rise to an explosive release of air, thus making the distinctive and characteristic sound of a cough.

Descriptive anatomy for a coughing process

Causes of Coughs

Viruses cause most coughs, and consequently, the coughs go away without treatment.

Causes of acute cough

In most cases in acute cough, the viral infection occurs in the upper respiratory tract, hence, affecting the throat. The infection in the upper respiratory tract is called an upper respiratory tract infection. Examples of these, include:

  • common cold
  • flu
  • laryngitis

In those cases, where a lower respiratory tract infection causes the acute cough, where the lungs and the airways below the windpipe are infected. Examples of such infection include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis

Note: Hay fever, can also be the cause of acute cough.

Causes of chronic cough

Some of the causes of chronic coughs include:

  • Asthma
  • smoking
  • Post-nasal drip, i.e., mucus dripping from the back of the nose, down the throat.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

—Asthma, post-nasal drip, or GERD, are usually the most common causes of chronic cough in children.

—Tuberculosis, lung cancer, and fungal infections of the lungs are the ‘not so common causes of adult chronic cough.’

Conventional treatment for cough

The traditional remedy for coughs includes over the counter cough and cold medications. Abuse of these medications leads to antibiotic resistance, which poses a significant clinical problem. Antibiotics play little or no role in treating cough, as viruses cause them.

What is antibiotics resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is defined as the ability of bacteria to resists the effect of a medication or anti-biotic that was once successful in treating the microbe. Resistant bacteria or microbes are complicated to treat if they can be treated at all, often requiring higher doses of antibiotics/antimicrobials or requiring alternative medications. These approaches are usually more expensive or toxic.

The New Health Guidelines on the treatment of cough

Honey is a natural remedy for so many ailments afflicting man, ranging from skincare problems to a cough. Honey is known for its natural healing properties. The new guidelines on the best ways to treat acute coughs say that honey should be the first-line treatment for a cough rather than anti-biotics.

These new guidelines are from the PHE and NICE, which is Public Health England and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, respectively.

PHE and NICE developed the new guidelines after analysis of the best scientific evidence, which showed that honey could be effective at reducing the severity of a cough and the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

This new guideline apply to adults and children over the age of five. It is noteworthy that honey is not considered safe for children under one.

Other recommended remedies aside honey

Other cough remedies which were found to be beneficial to help treat cough, or alleviating the symptoms included cough medicines, containing either antitussive dextromethorphan or guaifenesin (for people aged twelve and over) and the herbal remedy pelargonium.

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Ultimately, antibiotics should be used when they are really needed, and when there is no other alternative. For instance, if individuals have an increased risk of complications from an underlying health condition like cystic fibrosis or when individuals are very unwell, you may consider antibiotics when recommended by a specialist.

Otherwise, these natural remedies should be adopted to reduce the symptoms of a cough and also used in the treatment.


  • What is a cough?

A cough is an involuntary or voluntary action that clears the throat and breathing passage of foreign particles, irritants, microbes, mucus, fluids.

  • Is coughing an Involuntary or voluntary action?

A cough can be both; it is voluntary when one coughs to clear their throat. However, it is involuntary when it occurs as a reflex action to clear the breathing passage from irritants.

  • What are the phases of a cough?

The three phases of a cough are:

  1. Phase one: Breathing in or Inhalation
  2. Phase two: The vocal cords are closed, leading to increased pressure in the throat and lungs
  3. Phase three: The vocal cords are opened, giving rise to an explosive release of air, thus making the distinctive and characteristic sound of a cough
  • What are the recommended remedies in treating cough, according to the new guidelines?

The remedies recommended by the new guidelines are:

  1. Honey
  2. Cough medicines, containing either antitussive dextromethorphan or guaifenesin (for people aged twelve and over) and
  3. The herbal remedy pelargonium
  • How can honey be used to treat a cough?

Although honey can be taken as a stand-alone therapy for cough treatment, it would be more effective when mixed with a hot lemon.

Here are the required steps on how you can prepare honey with lemon for the treatment of a cough.

  1. Get a lemon and your honey close
  2. squeeze 1/2 of the lemon into a mug of warm water (boiled)
  3. add 2 to 3 teaspoons of honey
  4. Stir to mix
  5. Then drink while still hot
  6. Repeat procedures a minimum of 2 times a day (Morning and Night)


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