Everyone has coughed at some point. You feel something in your throat, and all of a sudden it comes out. It may even be an uncontrollable cough attack.
Coughing is a normal, involuntary reflex action of the body’s immune system and respiratory-defense system. Coughing will eject a quick and sudden burst of fluids and air from the respiratory tract to help expel chemicals, microbes, dust, and other irritants from the airways.
However, an uncontrollable cough requires further investigation to identify the underlying cause for the best possible remedy.
Sometimes a cough is a sign that a common cold has begun. Uncontrollable coughing in adults or children can be a symptom of an underlying infection of the lungs or bronchial tubes, including croup, pneumonia, or bronchitis.
In This Article:
What Causes Uncontrollable Cough Attacks?
When the weather or temperature suddenly changes it may lead to bacteria entering the body, which results in extreme coughing for two or three days. However, most of the time an uncontrollable cough is a symptom of a condition or disease that needs to be identified and treated. The following are the most common causes of an uncontrollable cough.
1. Whooping Cough
A whooping cough, or pertussis, is most common in children. It is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium, and it makes a “whooping” sound that is created in the throat during breathing. The disease is infectious and contagious, and there are often uncontrollable coughing periods where there are no other symptoms present. Whooping cough may also lead to vomiting and an air blockage in the throat.
Bronchiectasis is considered an abnormal and irreversible widening of the lower airways, and it is common in young adults. When the airway walls are weakened and mucus clearances are reduced, bacteria will enter, and this leads to repeated infections. It is also common in smokers because smoke flakes will enter the airways and cause irritation and excessive coughing. People may also need to clear their throat more often due to excessive mucus production.
3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a non-infectious disease related to a blocked airway. The types of COPD include chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and it is caused from air impurities, smoking, or inhaling other types of toxins. In most cases, chronic bronchitis produces an uncontrollable cough called “smokers’ cough.”
4. Postnasal Drip
Postnasal drip is excessive mucus production from the mucus membranes in the nose that leads to passing of the excess mucus into the back of the throat. In an attempt to clear excessive mucus from the throat there is a persistent and uncontrollable cough. Smoking, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and allergies can cause postnasal drip.
Asthma is a common and chronic disease that causes uncontrollable coughing and reversible constriction of the airways in the lungs. Allergies are the most common cause of asthma due to air pollutants, pollen, dust, and smoke. Other triggers that bring forth an asthma attack include cold air, sinusitis, poor digestive function, or emotional stress.
6. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is an upper gastrointestinal tract disorder that produces a backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. It is also called acid reflux, and it is the top symptom of heartburn. In chronic cases, the acid may reach up to the throat and enter the airways, which can lead to a coughing fit to help expel the problem.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacteria that causes the infection tuberculosis. It is a chronic lung condition that causes uncontrollable and persistent coughing. The coughing is how the condition can be spread from person to person. Coughing will develop weeks after the condition begins. Blood may also be present in the cough of some people with tuberculosis.
Other Chronic Coughing Causes: Cancer of the airways and lungs may lead to coughing and bloody coughing. Medications like ACE inhibitors can lead to dry coughing. Other possible causes of an uncontrollable cough include seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of Uncontrollable Cough
Coughing is not a disease, but a symptom of a disease. A cough is considered acute when it lasts less than three weeks and subacute when it drags on for more than three weeks. It is a chronic cough when it lasts for eight weeks or more. Some symptoms depend on the extent of the coughing fit and whether a meal was consumed before the coughing started. Some uncontrollable cough symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Watery and red eyes
- Running nose
- Thick congestion
- Abnormal breathing sounds
- Lack of sleep when coughing fits happen at night, while sleeping, or while lying flat
- Cyanosis, which is a bluish discoloration of the skin found on the feet, hands, lips, and whites of the eye
- Red or blue-colored face
- Loss of appetite when coughing occurs while eating or right after eating
Remedies for Uncontrollable Cough
It is important to note that some causes of a chronic cough are fatal when untreated. However, it is not the cough that is life-threatening, but the underlying disease that causes the cough. The following are five home remedies for coughing fits.
1. Peppermint Essential Oil
A great coughing fit remedy is peppermint essential oil. The menthol in peppermint oil will relieve coughs by thinning mucus. In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2010 researchers suggested that the antispasmodic activity in peppermint oil helps relieve coughing. Peppermint oil also combines well with eucalyptus oil to reduce coughing.
Another uncontrollable cough remedy is magnesium. Studies have found that children with high magnesium levels in the blood have a lower risk of asthma. Low magnesium is also common in those with COPD. Magnesium will help prevent spasms of the airways by relaxing the bronchial muscles of the respiratory tract.
3. Vitamin C
Whenever you have an uncontrollable cough it is best to load up on vitamin C powder. Vitamin C will enhance the immune system and also has anti-allergy benefits for chronic bronchitis by lessening spasms of the bronchial passages. It is important to note that you should reduce the dosage if loose stools are a problem.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is great for those with a chronic cough to help decrease phlegm. NAC is considered an excellent antioxidant that will liquefy mucus in the bronchial tubes and sinuses, which reduces coughing. NAC is especially useful for smokers or those with emphysema or asthma.
Homeopathic remedies are excellent for chronic and uncontrollable coughing, and for the right remedy consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is recommended.
For instance, kali bichromium is for a dry and tickling cough that produces thick, stringy, and yellow mucus.
Spongia tosta is used when a dry and barking cough improves with warm liquids or foods. Other chronic cough remedies may include pulsatilla, nux vomica, ipecacuanha, and medorrhinum.
Other Uncontrollable Cough Remedies: Other remedies for uncontrollable cough fits include vitamin A, astragalus, oregano oil, ginger, garlic, probiotics, thymus extract, South African geranium, shiitake mushroom extract, zinc lozenges, Echinacea, lomatium dissectum, American ginseng, licorice, chamomile, marshmallow, cherry bark, ivy leaf, colloidal silver, and bromelain.
A cough can be quite the nuisance, especially when you can’t control it. The following are a few more recommending for those with an uncontrollable and chronic cough.
- Drinking plenty of water and herbal teas can help reduce coughing, soothe the respiratory tract, and enhance the immune system. Some effective herbs for tea include cherry bark, ginger, marshmallow, chamomile, and peppermint.
- Eliminate all foods from the diet that encourage mucus production, including chocolate, dairy products, bananas, sugar, alcohol, and processed, fried, refined, and junk foods.
- Avoid cough suppressants because the lungs must expel phlegm to get healthy, and suppressants prevent this from happening. Consistent suppression can lead to pneumonia or acute or chronic bronchitis.
- Also, get plenty of rest and relaxation, preferably in bed, to help enhance the immune system.