Fever can make you lose all your strength and for a fact, we all can agree that it really does feel exhausting. Coughing, again, makes your body become tired and exhausted. It’s common to experience body aches.
If the coughing is triggered because of some allergy then you have to be extra careful and thus through this article we’ll understand ways through which we can stop the coughing and find the answer to, ‘How to stop coughing from allergies?’
Allergies are very common and affect millions of people across the world, be it any country or state.
One of the most annoying and troublesome symptoms of allergies is coughing, which can be very persistent, and disruptive. A cough – because of an allergy – can be triggered by grass pollen, dust, animal dander, or other allergens.
Finding relief from an allergic cough is crucial for improving your quality of life and well-being so that you can prosper in life and work efficiently.
2. Understanding Allergies
2.1. What are allergies?
An overreaction to the usual harmless substances of the immune system of the body, which is called allergens, is termed as an allergy.
When an allergic person is exposed to an allergen, like pollen, the immune system of the person produces antibodies, like IgE. This triggers the release of chemicals, including histamine. These chemicals can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe, life-threatening reactions.
2.2. How do Allergies Develop?
Though it can be said that the exact cause of allergies isn’t fully understood, allergies often tend to have a genetic component.
If one or both parents have allergies, their children are at a higher risk of developing them as well i.e. it can be passed on from parents to their children. Allergies can also develop over time through repeated exposure to allergens.
2.3. Types of Allergies
We now have a basic understanding of the allergies, it is now important to understand the types of allergies as then only one can determine the procedure to follow for treating the same. The common types of allergies include:
2.3.1. Respiratory Allergies
These are allergies that affect the respiratory system of the body and commonly include hay fever (allergic rhinitis) asthma cough as an allergic sickness.
2.3.2. Food Allergies
The allergy which is caused by reactions to specific foods like nuts, eggs, dairy, and shellfish is termed as food allergy.
2.3.3. Contact Allergies
Contact allergies include skin reactions due to direct contact with allergens like latex or poison ivy.
2.3.4. Insect Sting Allergies
An allergy can be caused because of the reactions to bee or wasp stings on the skin of a person.
2.3.5. Drug Allergies
There are allergic reactions to medications that can induce drug allergies.
These are some of the common allergies that can be observed and can happen to everyone.
3. Understanding Allergic Cough
Before delving into remedies for allergic cough, it’s essential to understand the mechanisms behind allergic cough, how it is caused, and what goes behind the scenes.
A cough because of an allergy is typically caused by your body’s immune system overreacting to harmless substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander, which will further be discussed in the proceeding sub-section. When the body is exposed to these allergens, chemicals are released by the body, including histamine as discussed earlier, which can irritate your throat and airways, leading to coughing.
3.1. Mechanisms of Allergic Cough
The hypersensitive reaction of the immune system to allergens causes the allergic cough in the body. When allergens are inhaled or ingested through the body, the immune system mistakenly identifies them as threats and launches an immune response. Key mechanisms involved in the allergic cough include the following two processes:
3.1.1. Histamine Release
Mast cells, which are abundant in the respiratory tract, release histamine when the cells get activated by the ingestion of the allergen. Histamine causes the blood vessels in the body to dilate and airway muscles to contract, as a result of which it leads to coughing.
An inflammatory response in the respiratory mucous membranes is triggered by the allergens, which leads to irritation and cough reflex activation in the body.
3.2. Causes of Allergic Cough
Common allergens which are responsible for causing the allergic cough are:
Tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen are common outdoor allergens that can lead to seasonal allergic cough (hay fever). The lining of the nose can be aggravated by the pollens which can lead to postnasal drip, a watery mucus that drips from the nose, and sometimes mucus drains into the back of the throat as the nose and throat are connected causing cough.
3.2.2. Dust Mites
These are tiny organisms that thrive in household dust and bedding, responsible for triggering year-round allergic cough.
3.2.3. Mold Spores
Mold can grow indoors and outdoors, releasing spores that, when inhaled, can cause allergic reactions, including coughing.
3.2.4. Pet Dander
Proteins in pet skin cells, urine, and saliva can be allergenic, leading to coughing in individuals with pet allergies.
Some individuals may experience allergic cough as a result of food allergies, although other symptoms like hives or digestive issues are more common in food allergy presentations.
3.3. Symptoms of Allergic Cough
The common signs and symptoms of an allergic cough include the following, which may signal that you have developed an allergic cough:
The most common symptom and the most notable of the allergy symptoms is persistent cough, which is often worse at night i.e., the hallmark symptom of an allergy cough.
Another one of the allergy symptoms includes sneezing. It is also possible for individuals with allergic cough to experience frequent sneezing.
3.3.3. Runny or Stuffy Nose
Rhinitis symptoms, such as a runny or congested nose, are common alongside coughing.
3.3.4. Watery or Itchy Eyes
Allergic conjunctivitis can lead to itchy, red, and watery eyes, which is another one of the notable allergy symptoms.
Some individuals with allergic cough, particularly those with asthma cough, may wheeze or experience chest tightness and shortness of breath as a symptom.
3.3.6. Throat Irritation
Another one of the allergy symptoms includes an itchy or scratchy throat, experienced by the individuals.
Now we have enough understanding about the allergic cough including the mechanism, the common causes for the same, and the symptoms to look out for.
4. How to Stop Coughing from Allergies?
Now that we have understood almost everything about allergic cough, it is time to start working toward the solutions.
4.1. Identification and Avoidance of Allergens
The first step is to identify the common allergens that trigger the allergy and symptoms of the body. You are aware of the common allergens now, identify them and then work towards taking the desired steps to minimize your exposure. At the same time, keep track of all the times and things you do when an allergic reaction is triggered in an allergy diary.
The common steps to minimize exposure include:
It is important to monitor the pollen counts and stay indoors on high pollen days or during the time of allergy season.
Use high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) in your home to reduce airborne allergens.
4.1.3. Isolate Home
Keep windows and doors closed during allergy seasons so as to prevent any unwanted allergen from finding its way to your home.
4.1.4. Clean House
It is necessary to regularly clean and vacuum your home to reduce dust and pet dander. This also includes washing your bedding and curtains frequently in hot water to minimize any chances of dust or any form of allergen. Air purifiers can also be used to clean the air inside the house.
4.2. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications
There are several over-the-counter medications available which can help with the allergic cough and help with chest pain. These include the following:
These are used to block the action of histamine, hence reducing allergy symptoms. Common options for antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
Over-the-counter decongestant can relieve nasal congestion and reduce postnasal drip which is often accompanied by allergic cough. Examples include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), which is a common decongestant.
These can help thin mucus and make it easier to clear from your airways. Guaifenesin (Mucinex) is a popular expectorant.
4.2.4. Cough Suppressants
Dextromethorphan-containing cough syrups can help reduce coughing, but use them with caution, as they can cause drowsiness.
It is important to always read the label and follow the instructions carefully including that for the number of doses. At the same time, make it convenient to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication or any new course of OTC, especially if you have any underlying health conditions that can be affected as a side effect.
4.3. Nasal Irrigation
Another effective way to remove allergens from your nasal passages is by nasal irrigation which can prove to be an effective way, helping in reducing post nasal drip and coughing.
Saline nasal spray or a Neti pot can be used for this purpose to help with allergic cough. It should be ensured that you follow proper hygiene and cleaning procedures when using a Neti pot to prevent infections.
4.4. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is a proven method that can provide immediate relief from a cough.
The procedure includes boiling water and then pouring it into a bowl. Then lean over the bowl, covering your head with a towel & closing your eyes, and inhale the hot steam that is being evaporated for about 5-10 minutes. Steam inhalation can help soothe irritated airways and reduce coughing.
When dealing with an allergic cough it is essential to stay well-hydrated i.e. drink adequate amounts of water to keep up with the required needs of the body.
Adequate hydration helps to keep your throat moist and thus can ease irritation. Drink plenty of water, herbal teas, and clear broths throughout the day and it will surely help with the allergic cough.
Another method to help with an allergic cough is honey. Honey, one of the home remedies, is a natural cough suppressant and thus can help soothe a scratchy throat, helping with an allergic cough.
It can either be taken alone as a whole or it can be mixed with warm water or tea to form a hot drink. Make sure to use raw, unprocessed honey for the best results.
Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce throat irritation and coughing.
A ginger tea can be made by slicing fresh ginger and steeping it in hot water. To enhance the taste and effectiveness of ginger tea, honey and lemon can be added. It is known to be one of the best home remedies.
4.8. Breathing Exercises
There are certain breathing exercises and techniques that can be adopted to help manage coughing episodes & allergic cough:
4.8.1. Deep breathing
Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise, and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this several times to calm your airways.
4.8.2. Pursed-lip breathing
In this breathing technique, inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips as if you are blowing out a candle. This can help increase the oxygen supply to your lungs and reduce coughing.
4.9. Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
In case of severe allergies and which are unresponsive to other treatments including those that have been recommended earlier, your healthcare provider may recommend allergy shots as a treatment for allergic cough.
This long-term treatment involves receiving injections of allergens to desensitize your immune system gradually. It can significantly reduce allergic symptoms, including coughing, over time.
4.10. Prescription Medications
In cases of severe allergic cough and serious symptoms including difficulty in swallowing, that do not even respond to OTC medications, stronger medications will be prescribed by your doctor which may include:
These medications are known to reduce inflammation in the airways and can be taken as inhalers or even as oral medications.
4.10.2. Leukotriene modifiers
These drugs can help control allergic reactions and reduce coughing.
Allergic cough can be a persistent and bothersome symptom, but with the right strategies and remedies, you can effectively manage it.
The treatment should be started by identifying and avoiding allergens, considering over-the-counter medications, nasal irrigation by nasal sprays, and creating an allergy-proof bedroom.
There are natural remedies like honey and ginger, along with breathing exercises, which can provide relief, and in severe cases, prescription medications or immunotherapy may be necessary to deal with the allergic cough.
Remember to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options to stop coughing from allergies and improve your overall well-being.