Are you more prone to coughing when you’re in the mountains or the desert? How about inside an air-conditioned building? These places may seem very different from each other, but when it comes to people’s compulsion to cough, the common denominator they share is low humidity.
Humidity refers to the moisture in the air, so places with low humidity are much more dry-aired than others.
Two Types of Cough
While coughs come from a wide variety of causes, there are basically just two kinds of cough: wet and dry. Wet cough is characterized by the expulsion of phlegm, while dry cough expels nothing but air. Dry cough is particularly frustrating to have since you can’t seem to expectorate whatever is causing you to cough.
Dry Air Irritation
Low humidity areas are notorious for triggering dry cough, especially in those with allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma. Dry air in itself can be irritating to the upper respiratory tract besides also aggravating an existing irritation. Both lead to an annoying tickle in the throat. Meanwhile, moisture in the air helps soothe those dry passages and thins mucus, facilitating easier breath.
If you seem to develop a cough during seasonal transitions, that’s because they’re a time of change not only in temperature, but in humidity as well. Notwithstanding that, the colder seasons are noted for much drier air. Cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, which actually has a huge influence on why people get sick more easily in the fall and winter. Small particles tend to float in the air and be inhaled, whereas in better humidity, they bind to the moisture and fall onto surfaces.
Solutions for Humidity-Related Coughing
If you live in the mountains or the desert, or if you spend most of the day cooped up in air conditioning, there are ways to contradict the effects of dry air or to manipulate the humidity in your living or working space.
What can you do if the humidity of your area dries out the delicate mucus membranes in your respiratory tract, causing an irritation that leads to a cough?
1. Use a humidifier.
You would essentially be adding moisture to the air. Low moisture content also tends to thicken mucus secretions so that they are harder to cough up.
These days, humidifiers are often used with essential oils, so you can make the air that you breathe even more beneficial. If you’re already coughing, dry air can increase the severity and duration of this bout.
With a room-size humidifier or vaporizer, you can raise humidity levels to the recommended 30 to 50. House humidifiers that can be attached to your heating unit are also available.
2. Take a steamy shower.
If you don’t have a humidifier, you can take a hot shower to ease your humidity-related coughing. The steam from the shower can help moisten the lining of your respiratory tract and reduce the irritation in your dried out airways, thanks to low humidity levels. Breathing in steam also soothes a dry, itchy throat.
If you’re feeling too poorly to take a hot shower and you can’t get hold of a humidifier, get someone to fill a basin with hot water, and then bend over it, putting a towel over your head. This traps the steam rising from the basin, giving you temporary relief from a cough caused by dry air.
3. Hydrate frequently.
Take in lots of fluids. For a start, drink lots of water. You can add to it by sipping hot tea and eating hot soup. Doing this hydrates your cells and tissues internally.
Remember that hydration is essential to good health. The act of breathing in actually requires moisture, so when the air is dry, your body is supposed to supply the difference. On regular days, you should take in two to three liters of fluid and even more if the temperature is hot or the humidity level is low.
Remedy Your Dry Cough
There are different things you can do as part of a cough treatment for adults. The best home remedy for dry cough involves the three tips above. For quick relief, you can take a suppressant, but also doing the above steps will definitely help you feel so much better.