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Natural Method to Calm a Coughing Spasm

Updated on April 25, 2017
Sherry Hewins profile image

I have always been interested in health issues and healing. I am an obsessive researcher and label reader.

If This Is an Emergency, Don't Mess Around!

If you have landed on this page, and you or someone else is having trouble breathing, stop reading right now and call 911. Severe coughing, with or without wheezing, could be a sign of asthma. Asthma can kill you, sometimes very fast.

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Tips to Get You Through the Night

Few things are more irritating than a persistent cough. I've spent many sleepless nights in the past few weeks because of a cough that just won't quit.

In searching the internet for help I've found lots of advice; some of it is helpful, some of it is not.

I found several articles that mentioned the use of controlled breathing. I tried some of these techniques, but perhaps in my agitated state I didn't have a good understanding of how to do it.

After some experimentation, I have found a simple method that works for me, and it does involve breathing. I think it is a simple way that is easy to understand and implement. I hope this advice will help someone else.

This advice is in no way meant to replace medical treatment, it is only to help deal with a very uncomfortable and annoying symptom and help you get some rest. If you experience wheezing or difficulty breathing get to an ER right away.

Calm a Cough in 5 Easy and Gentle Steps

This is a 5-step process. For best results, follow all of the steps. A hot bath or a hot drink by itself may help a little, but it will not give the benefits of following the full process.

  1. Sit in a hot bath, you can try without this step, but I found it helpful. The hot water relaxes the body and the steam seems to soothe the bronchial tubes. Do not lie back in the tub, remain sitting. Keep tissue or a handkerchief nearby as your nose will probably run.
  2. Have a cup of hot liquid, Coffee is a natural bronchodilator. However, if you can't or don't want to drink coffee, tea or broth is good, even hot water works for this method. You may need more than one cup full, so have a thermos full near the tub if you don't have anyone to refill your cup. If you're not in a tub, you may want to breath the steam from your cup.
  3. Take a sip of the liquid, close your eyes, relax and breathe in through your nose if you can. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips, like blowing a kiss. Try to take 3 breaths without coughing before the next sip. If the urge to cough is too strong, go ahead and take another sip, and start again. I found that the hot liquid hitting the back of my throat temporarily relieved the urge to cough.
  4. Your breathing should be relaxed and natural, when it is easy to take 3 breaths between sips, begin to increase the number of breaths. It is best not to have any interruptions during this time. Relaxation is the key, shut out all distractions, and do not try to hurry the process.
  5. Maintain your calm and relaxed state of mind. When the urge to cough has subsided do not jump back into resuming normal activity too quickly. Eventually, you should get to a calm and relaxed state of mind. Try to maintain your relaxed state. If your bath gets cold before you are ready, run more hot water. Take it slowly. I have had this process take up to 45 minutes. Once you no longer feel the urge to cough, you can go back to your bed.

If Your Cough Persists Seek Medical Help

There are many causes of coughing including allergies, cold and flu, dust and other irritants, and more serious problems like pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, or congestive heart failure.

This advice is in no way meant to replace medical treatment, it is only to help deal with a very uncomfortable and annoying symptom and help you get some rest. If you experience wheezing or difficulty breathing get to an ER right away.

If your cough persists, you should see your regular doctor. Waiting too long to get help for pneumonia or asthma can lead to serious complications.

I hope you are feeling better soon; have a good night's sleep.

© 2012 Sherry Hewins

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    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 6 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Kat - That sounds awful. Smoke can be very damaging for sure. I hope you can get some relief.

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      Kat 6 months ago

      Thank you so much for this. I've been having issues for about six months. Dr x 6 as well. Asthma treatments, steroids, antibiotics, nose sniffers, etc., nothings seemed to totally rid me of the chronic cough spasms. They're scary and I work for a fire department. Yesterday they were so bad that I felt the muscles that surrounded my lungs have the feeling of pins and needles. I got to the floor and ended up spitting up choking. They're horrible. The Dr. gave me a new pill today and not sure it's working as I just got through with a spasm that my son who I was on the phone with almost called EMS. Hence why I'm reading up on this issue. I'm sure it all started with a bad fire we had here about, guess what, 6 months ago. It was really bad and since then I've just not been able to shake this. It's sinus/asthma issues I'm sure but the cough literally closes up my bronchial tubes and I can't catch my breath to continue through the cough spasm. Going to close the computer now and try this method. It sounds the best and kindest to me. Thank you sincerely.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I think the steam is a big help, plus the hot water helps you relax your body and mind. Thanks for visiting my hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I can see how the hot tub water would help to calm and soothe coughing. I do drink hot lemon-honey tea whenever I have a cough and it does help. Great suggestions and I like the fact that they are all natural.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for commenting peachpurple. If you're having a severe coughing spasm, sometimes it takes a long time to calm it and the process can't be hurried. I think the most important part of this process is the breathing and relaxation. At least for me, just taking a hot bath, or drinking a hot drink didn't help much on their own.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      hot beverages are the best. I love hot chocolate to calm down my chest. However, I find that tea makes my cough worsen by the minute. I think it belongs to the "cold" type of drink. Anyway, i haven't try out the hot steam shower yet. Just a quick shower to reduce the time in the bathroom. Thanks for the tips.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Excellent ways in calming a cough I had a few coughs this winter and it can most irritating so I had cups of warm tea and honey, thanks for this helpful hub.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Hot showers or baths always seem to make me feel better. I'm still having issues with cough, another thing that helps is a strong cup of coffee if it's not contraindicated for some other reason. The caffeine is a natural broncho dilator, and it seems to work very fast.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I think hot steam showers always help when your sick. Great information. Voted up.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I agree that the cough kicks up a night. I've found that the old trick of covering your head with a towel and breathing the steam from a hot bowl of water works also. Not as relaxing as a bath though. Thanks for visiting and rating Denise.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      This sounds wonderful. I have no bathtub to speak of to soak in. It is old, marked up, discolored and unappealing. I wouldn't be able to relax in it. However, Hot steamy showers have helped me, and also the hot water. Seems that persistent cough starts up when I go to bed! Rated up/U/I Thanks.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      You're right mary615, those things do help. But I've been having these coughing spasms, I cough violently for up to an hour without being able to stop. I even cracked a rib from coughing so hard. If I hadn't been able to stop I think I would have gone to the ER. With this method I was able to wait till morning and go to my doctor instead.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Ok, I'll tell you what works for me: when I get a tickle and have to cough (at night), I get up and gargle with warm salt water. Then when I go back to bed, I don't lay flat. I elevate my self. If I lay flat, I'll get the tickle again.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I hope it helps midget38. I know that is miserable.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      This is a hub which I will forward to my husband who has asthmatic coughs. Thanks for the tips, which I share!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Hope it works for you Audrey Baker

    • Audrey Baker profile image

      Audrey Baker 5 years ago from Arizona

      My favorite method is hot tea, but if I can find an excuse for a hot bath - I'll take it! I'll have to give that a shot.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I hope it helps and that your husband is feeling better. Thanks for stopping by.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      The cough can be such a terrible thing to get over. Thanks for the tips, which I bookmark because my husband often suffers from it. Thanks so much, sharing!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great tips Sherry! I use a facial steamer and breath in the warm vapors, it's very soothing and relaxing. I actually almost feel asleep while steaming, but luckily I didn't :)

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for the tip beingwell. I appreciate your visit.

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 5 years ago from Bangkok

      Excellent hub! I voted it useful. :) Another way to stop coughing is by drinking ginger tea. Just give some crushed ginger a boil, add honey if you like and drink. It's truly a wonder, promise!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Often the bath and hot drink alone are enough to stop the coughing, but if that doesn't do it I would recommend also counting breaths between sips as I describe. I have gotten relief for several hours by this method. Thanks for commenting and I hope you are feeling well.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi Sherry,

      Coughing can get really bad and several times i have found myself without a sleep due to coughing. When that happen, i try to take hot water or generally any hot drink, am glad it is one remedy on your list. I will remember tip #5 as i tend to go back to bed immediately the coughing has stopped. Thanks for sharing this, voted up and useful.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks Dolores

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Well it's coughing time again what with colds and flu season. Your natural tips make sense and add a note of real comfort - there is nothing like hot tea and a hot bath, cough or not!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I appreciate the support kashmir56, thanks!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and very informative with good natural tips to help get rid of a annoying cough . Well done !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I hope you feel better luvintkandtj. While I enjoy tea, sometimes I can have too much. The hot water helps me stay hydrated when I'm sick as well as helping to soothe the throat. Sometimes cold beverages seem to aggravate it. Thanks for commenting, and please take care of yourself and get well.

    • luvintkandtj profile image

      luvintkandtj 5 years ago from USA

      I gave this a thumbs up as I sip my hot tea. I have been suffering a terrible cough the past week. I also drink hot water instead of tea and that helps too

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I'm sorry to hear that you were so ill. I hope your are in good health now. There is something about that hot liquid hitting the back of the throat that soothes the cough reflex. It seems to me that calming the reflex instead of fighting it is more effective. It's easy to feel panicky when you can't get your breath. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for reading. I am on the mend, ended up on antibiotics. This method has helped me through a few tough nights though.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Having ended up in hospital with a cough last year and sufferring with a cough this year the most important piece to me, of your advice was the warm drinks- it does seem to help, especially in the night which can be so long when you are waking up every night. Voted up, interesting

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Sherry,

      Hope you feel better now. I always like hearing about natural remedies and this hot bath and hot liquid treatment sounds like it is certainly worth a try. It is terrible when a nagging cough keeps you from getting your rest...especially at night. Up votes and sharing.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for your comment barbergirl28. I'm still recovering my lingering cough. Sometimes you just need something to get you through the night. I know I was up in the wee hours looking for a solution, so I hope someone who needs it finds this.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I could have used this earlier this year. I got a bad case of strep throat and tonsilitus and long story short - it turned real bad and I ended up with a cough that wouldn't quit. Luckily, I am feeling better now. But I am sure on those sleepless nights, this would have been good advice.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for reading Sophia Angelique.

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      Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

      Thank you, Sherry. This was interesting. :)

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I appreciate your visit agusfanani, thanks for stopping by and commenting

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

      I always try to take medicine as the last alternative for coughing problem and you've given very good natural tips for stopping it. Thanks for this useful hub.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Good luck Injured lamb, I hope it works for you. Feel better soon.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      You're right about how irritating it is Angela, I hope it works for you.

    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 5 years ago

      Sounds really great Sherry...I will try #1 sit in a hot bath...actually I always have bad cough issue, even with the help of cough syrup from clinic also can't help much, thanks for sharing the natural method that helps to calm a cough with us. Useful hub, cheers!

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Excellent advice -- and I'll surely give it a try. A cough that hangs on is one of the more irritating things in the world. Best/Sis

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for commenting Kate Mc Bride and billybuc. It certainly worked for me, in fact it was the only thing that did work. I had tried every herbal remedy and cough syrup under the sun.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Excellent suggestion and I do believe it can help. I have used a variation of this technique and most certainly when we relax and clear our minds, that tends to help subside the coughing.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      This is a good method of dealing with a persistent cough and it has more credibility because you have tried it yourself. Voted this up and useful.