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Dry Coughs and Wet Coughs

It’s the first thing I always ask patients in order to differentiate between cough remedies – is your cough dry or loose (wet)?

Dry cough remedies cover the frightening whooping croupy coughs of childhood and often the early stages of severe flu and bronchitis. The more mucus, congested, productive coughs can come at the end of an illness when the body is struggling to throw off the naturally over-produced mucus we need to clear out the pathogen from the body. I’m writing this guide because I wanted you to see at a glance each of these two distinct groups of remedies.

Here are some of the most commonly used homeopathic remedies for a dry cough:

1. Bryonia: Suitable for a dry, spasmodic cough that is painful, worsened by movement, and associated with a dry, parched throat. The cough may be aggravated by cold air and can be very intense, better for pressure on the sternum, often the cough causes headaches. Irritability and thirst are highly characteristic.

2. Belladonna: Very dry Larynx with tickling and burning sensations. Barking short coughs with violence and difficulty bringing up any mucus. A bursting headache is characteristic. Often an attack of coughing will end in sneezing. Belladonna patients are usually red, burning hot and the pupils can be dilated.

3. Drosera: Often indicated for a deep, dry, spasmodic cough that is frequent and can be violent. A keynote is 'coughing with retching or vomiting'. It's especially useful for coughs that are worse at night, may wake the patient and may be triggered by tickling in the throat or lying down. The cough may be accompanied by a hoarse or sore throat.

4. Rumex crispus: Helpful for a dry, tickling cough that is often triggered by exposure to cold air, cold drinks or even changing rooms. The person may experience a sensation as if there's a feather or tickle in the throat, leading to the cough. Towards the end of the 'dry' stage, tough, stringy mucus can be discharged in small quantities.

5. Spongia tosta: Indicated for a dry, barking cough that is often croupy and may sound like a saw cutting through wood. The chest is dry and often the violent cough wakes the patient out of sleep with a feeling of suffocation. There may be a dry, burning sensation in the throat. In Croup Spongia is part of a trio of remedies - Aconite / Spongia / Hepar Sulph / Hepar / Spongia (repeated as required) in that order.

6. Phosphorus: A dry, tight, violent, racking, exhausting, irritating cough that can be triggered by speaking or talking. The cough may also be accompanied by bursting head pain, chest pain and hoarseness. The Phosphorous patient is chilly and has a thirst for ice cold drinks.

Here are some of the most commonly used homeopathic remedies for a loose (wet) cough:

1. Antimonium tart: Often indicated for a slow onset, loose, rattling cough with difficulty in expectoration. The cough is accompanied by a sensation of mucus in the chest, but the patient has trouble bringing it up. They must sit up to cough. This is a good remedy for the later stages when there is weakness and a lack of reaction. The cough may be worse at night or in damp, cold weather.

2. Ipecacuanha: Useful for a cough with constant nausea, gagging and vomiting, along with the production of mucus. The patient may have a clean tongue and not feel better after vomiting. This remedy can be helpful for irritable bronchitis, particularly in infancy and other respiratory infections.

3. Kali bich: Suited for a loose cough with tough, stringy, yellow or green mucus that is jelly-like, tough and difficult to expectorate. The cough may be worse in the morning and may be accompanied by sinus congestion, dryness of the nose with sinus pain and postnasal drip. The patient is worse for cold and between 2-3am.

4. Pulsatilla: Indicated for a loose cough that changes frequently in character, often from dry to loose. The mucus may be yellow or green, and the person may have a thirst for open air and lack of thirst for water. Patients feel worse coming into a warm room and in the evening. Emotionally we see a weepy, tearful picture.

5. Kali carb: Often indicated for a loose, rattling cough that is worse at night, particularly around 3am, and may be associated with asthma or bronchitis. The cough can produce an abundance of thick, yellow or green mucus that is difficult to expectorate. Individuals needing Kali carb may also experience a sensation of weight or pressure in the chest and may feel better when lying on the painful side. Patients often lean forward to cough with their head on their knees.

6. Hepar sulph: Indicated when any part of the body is uncovered, patient is intensely sensitive and irritable, even angry. A suffocative cough, worse after being in cold, dry weather and worse for breathing cold air. The throat can also be extremely painful with sharp pain on swallowing.

If you are finding it difficult to differentiate between remedies - and don't forget there are many more to consider, please get in touch with me so I can help you.

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