Home Remedies for Treating Bronchitis
Cough, cough – now this is a subject I can really relate to at the moment. I have been struggling with a rather severe case of bronchitisfor the past week and decided I’d had enough with ‘traditional’ treatments – because none of them are working! In fact, they are making it worse and I feel like my chest and back muscles have gone into overdrive.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and try and find some natural ways to help myself and lo and behold, these are already proving to be more helpful than the over-the-counter ‘remedies’ I have been trying all week – and which have done nothing but make my symptoms worse.
It should be noted that bronchitis can be a precursor to pneumonia, so keep that in mind. As in all things as well, there is no substitute for a chest x-ray or being checked by a medical health care professional if you are not improving.
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Soothing Things That Help Bronchitis
Strange as it may sound, some things just make me feel better when I have bronchitis and here are a few simple suggestions
Stick to soups or stews to eat – things that are warm and make you feel good to eat/comfort foods
Stay away from cold foods such as ice creams and such unless they make you feel better. Sometimes I find that cold foods with bronchitis make it worse and trigger coughing
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Drink plenty of liquids, as much of it water as you can tolerate,
but try and drink more warm liquid as that is reputed to loosen mucus
faster than cold or room temperature liquids
Try to forget
everything that is not vital to do at that moment! It will be there when
you feel better and in order for someone to get over bronchitis, rest
is essential – reduce stress and use the opportunity for good – to heal
personally have found that going out into the night air helps my
bronchitis – but especially damp sea air. If you happen to live near the
ocean and you get bronchitis,
try it and see if it doesn’t help. Damp and steam help anyway but
somehow the addition of salt air always makes my chest ease up
you can’t go to the sea, try filling a sink with steaming water or a
pan – place a towel over your head and inhale the warm steam to loosen congestion – repeat as often as you can
a steamy shower or steaming up the bathroom works but for aching
muscles and chest, try a tub soak in water as hot as you can stand it –
try adding apple cider vinegar to the water as it helps to soothe aching
muscles – 3 cups to a bathtub of water
Do’s and Don’ts for Bronchitis
Get as much rest as you can – contrary to what people think, lung infection/congestion is not easy to bounce back from and that is why people get pneumonia. Take the opportunity to rest often and do quiet things – naps are okay when you have bronchitis!
That old adage about gargling with salt water really is true. Only use 1 teaspoon per cup of warm water – you can’t gargle too often – just don’t swallow
Use a humidifier as much as you can tolerate – it really does help loosen chest congestion. I prefer warm air humidity but some people swear by cool air humidifiers – whatever works
Remember the croup treatments you used when your children were small – or if you didn’t do that – here is the word to the wise. Steam up the bathroom or stand in a shower full of steam for as long as you can tolerate or until the warm water starts to cool. The steam does wonders for chest congestion
Don’t be afraid to cough (just remember to be polite about it and cover your mouth). Coughing is actually what loosens the congestion and gets you past it keeping locked in your lungs. Over-the-counter and prescribed cough medicines can actually hinder the loosening of congestion so go easy with those
If you are experiencing chest pain or muscle pain from coughing as I am, it is better to use ibuprofen or aspirin for the pain rather than overdoing on cough medicines to prevent the coughing – remember to never give children aspirin though – use Tylenol instead. Aspirin or ibuprofen, even Tylenol helps with any fever associated with bronchitis
Drink, drink, drink – I don’t mean alcohol – drink as much water as you can stand in whatever form. If you tire of drinking plain water, switch to herbal teas – sometimes the warm liquids can also help loosen chest congestion. Sodas, juices, and other liquids are ‘okay’ but they really do not do what you need them to do – turn the mucus in your chest into as thin a state as possible – gross but true. Only by bombarding it with gallons of water will you be able to thin that out and get rid of it
Take care of yourself by not pushing yourself – meaning if you are sick, you need to protect yourself from further exposures as well as doing too much. Stay away from people who are sick if at all possible as when you are already sick, you can pick up other bugs that may make your condition worse or give you something else to deal with
If you smoke – DON’T – smoking and bronchitis are polar opposites and smoking will only increase your chances of getting pneumonia or worsening your bronchitis by engaging in it
Stay away from triggers – I find that if I have bronchitis, certain foods trigger some kind of coughing spasm such as spicy foods. Smells also trigger coughing jags for me – for instance hair products in a beauty salon or perfumes in a shopping mall. Other times these smells or foods don’t bother me in the slightest but when you have an irritation in your chest such as bronchitis, you can be very susceptible to smells and reactants
If you are not getting better in a reasonable amount of time (actually 1 week plus is not that unusual to get over bronchitis), or if you develop fevers, pain in the ears or your head, cough up blood, or cannot keep food or liquids down – seek medical help right away because you could be developing a more serious condition such as pneumonia
As odd as it may sound, avoid talking too much – I find that too much jabbering makes me go into a coughing fit that takes me a long time to recover from. You don’t have to be silent – just try not to overwork your vocal muscles which in turn work your chest muscles
Try not to get upset about things in general – being tense and tight or getting a flare of temper can sometimes trigger an asthmatic-like bout of coughing
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Nature’s Remedies for Bronchitis
These are all things that are reputed to help you get over a case of bronchitis and they are all natural.
Honey – I remember my grandmother saying that whiskey, honey and lemon was the best bronchitis treatment when I was little. Most folks just use honey and lemon though – 1 teaspoon honey and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Stir to combine and keep on the back of your throat as long as possible as you swallow it (see onion honey prescription below)
Onions – It is reported that eating them raw or cooked, baked, in soups and stews or as seasoning works as well to fight bronchitis symptoms because they are expectorants. To relieve cough, it is recommended that you slice an onion and cover with honey – allow to stand overnight and then take out the onion. Use 1 teaspoon of this honey 4 times a day.
Almonds – Supposedly they help heal respiratory illnesses – toasted with a little honey or eat raw, chopped onto other foods.
Water with added oil – For loosening congestion, try doing some of the steam ideas or head steaming suggestions but add a few drops of eucalyptus, rosemary or peppermint oil to the water as this helps to open breathing passages
Lemons – As a child, when I got bronchitis and would have a gagging fit, I would suck on a cut lemon sprinkled with just a few grains of sugar and it really seemed to work to cut the coughing jag. Lemons do have antibacterial properties and fight mucus as well. Another idea is to make a cup of lemon tea – slice or so of lemon or lemon rind in 1 cup of boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes and drink. Gargle with lemon juice mixed with warm water (1 teaspoon in 1 cup warm water). This loosens mucus as well.
Herbal teas- Chamomile, mint, and lemon teas are especially good but really any herbal teas seem to be helpful in treating bronchitis – drink as much of it as you can during the day and even before bed. I try and avoid caffeine as much as possible when I have bronchitis because it seems to make me cough more or get ‘wired up’ more when really relaxation and rest is the name of the game
Bay leaf – Said to be good for bronchitis – but not if you are pregnant as it can induce bleeding. To use, you make a tea of 1 leaf in 1 cup boiling water and drink. Some people also make an application of it by soaking leaves in hot water and applying to the chest (cover with a kitchen towel and rewarm if it cools)
Ginger tea – Use 1/2 teaspoon ginger, some ground cloves and bit of cinnamon – steep in 1 cup of boiling water and drink
Thyme – Use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme added to 1 cup boiling water. Sweeten with honey if desired and drink. You can also make a chest rub by using 2 parts oil (olive or corn) to 1 part of thyme oil) – rub on chest for congestion – and be careful someone doesn’t stick you in the oven for dinner
Savory – Also can be made into a tea – 1/2 teaspoon savory added to 1 cup boiling water. Use this tea once per day
Dry mustard – This is where mustard plasters came from – 1 tablespoon dry mustard mixed with 4 tablespoons flour. Add enough warm water to form a bit of a runny paste. Apply corn or olive oil to the chest and place the mustard mixture in cheesecloth and cover with another piece. Then apply to chest – being careful not to apply when too hot and check skin for irritation – again being watchful you are not on the dinner menu
Herbal Preparations- Some people swear by these of course and include vitamin C (rose hips is most preferred), Echinacea, garlic (although you can eat that naturally), elderberry, and licorice to name a few. I always caution people though that when using herbs, make sure that you know their toxic properties as well such as heart arrhythmia, etc because they can be as potent as medicines if used improperly
Juniper berries – Juniper berry teas or berries are said to loosen up congestion and aid in lung healing. However, consult with an herbalist before using juniper berries or juniper oil for inhalation because a little goes a long way. It is recommended not to use juniper berries for more than 14 days at a time. They are contraindicated in people who have chronic or severe kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and who take lithium. Used properly, juniper berries are very aromatic and said to be best used in bronchitis as an inhaled steam.
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Summing It Up
Being sick is nobody’s idea of a good time but every once in a while, stuff happens! I’ve learned that when I get bronchitis, it is a good time to stop the world and try and think on a smaller scale. The focus becomes about getting better and worrying about all that I can’t do or that I’m behind in doesn’t seem to help.
I use the time to heal as best I can and pamper myself by not sweating the small stuff – I watch TV or nap – or read a book and know that I’ll be back in action soon enough.
Bronchitis is not a serious malady though it can turn into one if untreated properly so have a care. Natural remedies sometimes are better than all the modern medicine in the world though in getting us from point A to point B – I was given an inhaler once for my bout of bronchitis that sent my heart into palpitations. I much prefer the tried and true methods that have been around for centuries and am only glad that I always can see light at the end of the tunnel! I always bounce back and this is good!
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