Q & A: Ask the doctor

Hello Doctor, I caught a terrible cough 3 months ago and it looks like it is here to stay. I have used every antibiotic recommended by doctors and tested negative for TB.
Dr. Rachna Pande
Dr. Rachna Pande

Hello Doctor,

I caught a terrible cough 3 months ago and it looks like it is here to stay. I have used every antibiotic recommended by doctors and tested negative for TB.

I have since given up on modern medicine and been told that honey mixed with lemon could be the cure. Would you recommend the honey and lemon as well? What natural remedies could be helpful?

Stephanie 25, Remera
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Dear Stephanie,

Cough persisting for 3 months is really very troublesome. But if you have no fever, loss of appetite or weight problems, then it is unlikely to be due to infection. As such I presume you would have taken some antibiotics as well during this period.

Have you got a stool sample tested? Sometimes presence of worms like ascaris inside the gut can also cause persistent cough. If that is the case, taking medicine for de-worming cures the cough. At times the cough can be due to allergens present in the environment like dust, pollens, droppings of insects and mites. This kind of cough does not respond to antibiotics.

As far as home remedies for cough are concerned, there are many home remedies available which are very useful in relieving coughs. People know by experience over generations that this is going to help and now scientific studies are also revealing the beneficial effects of some of these home remedies.

Basil leaves if chewed raw or consumed as decoction with hot water or tea not only reduce cough but also help in curing cough due to allergy. Basil grows in plenty around Kigali and is called, “UMWENYA” locally (as my house help calls the basil planted in my garden).

Honey is a naturally occurring mucolytic (dissolves mucous) and kills germs. It can be used raw or mixed with hot water or tea for consumption.  Use of hot water or tea provides a soothing touch to a raw throat, while honey helps to reduce cough. It can also be taken with lemon.

Ginger tea is also very useful in this regard. One can combine more than one substance, for the flavour as well as the healing properties. For instance, tea or a decoction can be prepared using basil leaves and ginger to which about 2 teaspoons of honey can be added.

Another very useful home remedy for cough is drinking hot milk or water with about 1-2 spoons of turmeric powder. Turmeric has antiseptic properties. If used regularly 2 to 3 times each day, it helps in reducing and even curing coughs.

Licorice root is used either as decoction or tea or one can use commercial anti-cough formulations containing licorice.  The active ingredient in its roots called glycyrrhizin is a very effective mucolytic.

Drinking more water also helps in suppressing coughs because it prevents dryness of the throat which aggravates coughs. If one drinks hot water 2 or 3 times daily, the cough improves along with a feeling of being comfortable.

While trying these home remedies, also get tests done for worms as well as allergies. If one of them is detected, relevant medicines can help in a cure.

Dr. Rachna Pande

 

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