Natural Remedy for Hay Fever Cough

Hay fever may make symptoms of asthma, such as coughing and wheezing, feel worse. In fact, people with respiratory symptoms may experience continuous coughing as a result of their hay fever. This is likely to be due to the type of allergens affecting them. However, if a cough becomes unusually persistent, it is always best to report it to a doctor. But for those with asthma already taking medication, finding a natural remedy for hay fever induced coughing is of interest.

Natural Remedy for Hay Fever Induced Coughing

Coughing is the body’s natural way of trying to clear the lungs of fluid or mucus. Mucus production increases as a result of respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. However, mucus also increases when a person has an allergic reaction. In the case of hay fever, this will be to a type of pollen. It’s this allergic reaction that can cause persistent coughing, as the body tries to shift mucus, or phlegm, from the lungs.

Phlegm is produced by the respiratory system. When there is a large amount of phlegm, it can clog the airways. When phlegm is present in large amounts, the body naturally coughs to expel it. This resulting cough from clogging of the airways is particularly distressing in people with asthma.

Antihistamines and decongestants are traditionally taken to help relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever. However, neither will get rid of phlegm on the chest. Furthermore, both are drugs. Additionally, an expectorant will help to make mucus thinner so it is easier to cough up, but that too is made from a type of drug.

People with asthma know how important it is to ensure that any additional medication they take is safe to use with their prescribed asthma treatment. It is helpful, therefore, to find a drug-free cough treatment that will help with mucus clearance. A drug-free cough treatment, by its nature, will have no drug interactions.

How to Clear Mucus

A natural remedy for hay fever cough is to use a mucus clearance device. The Shaker offers chesty cough relief by shaking loose the phlegm on the chest.

The weighted ball inside the Shaker rises as the user breathes out through the device. It then falls under its own weight. However, it does this so quickly that it feels like a vibration. It’s this vibrating action that mobilises lung secretions, breaking them down and making them thinner and less sticky. This makes it easier for the user to then expel the phlegm. A productive cough will result after using the Shaker; sometimes immediately and sometimes it may be an hour later. But the productive cough that the Shaker induces will help the user to eliminate the mucus. Ultimately, this brings much relief from chest congestion.

Shaker devices are ideal for ‘shaking’ loose mucus and catarrh that is associated with:

  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Cystic Fibrosis

Shaker devices are also suitable for children to use, under parental guidance, as they are easy-to-use and effective. Please always speak to a medical professional first about medical issues or concerns and also read the precautions before using.

How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

If you are finding breathing difficult because you have a lung condition, the European Lung Foundation believes exercise is helpful. In fact, you can discover how exercise helps to keep your lungs healthy in one of our previous blogs, How To Keep Your Lungs Healthy With Exercise. Additionally, by eating a healthy diet you can also help to keep your lungs healthy. If you find this topic to be of interest, then you may like to read another one of our blogs, Foods for Keeping your Lungs Healthy.

Can Multiple Sclerosis Affect Breathing

The automatic nervous system is part of the central nervous system. It controls vital functions, one of which is breathing, which we do without thinking. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it is unusual for MS to affect the nervous system and therefore breathing.

How Multiple Sclerosis affects breathing

However, patients with MS will experience muscle weakness. This affects all parts of the body, including the breathing muscles. These muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostals begin to lose their strength and stamina. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and breathing in and out feels like hard work. Consequently, this adds to the feeling of fatigue, which is already a debilitating symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Furthermore, the weakness of the breathing muscles may also impede speech and voice production.

How to improve breathing strength and stamina

A 2007 study shows that Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) significantly increases breathing muscle strength in people with MS. Additionally, IMT improves how well the lungs work in people with Multiple Sclerosis who have minimal to moderate disability.

The effects of Multiple Sclerosis on your body

Healthline, the fastest growing health information site, has created this medically reviewed infographic showing the effects of MS on the body.

The infographic itself provides a quick look at the effects of MS on the body. However, the rest of the article goes on to explain in more depth how this progressive neurodegenerative condition has an impact on the whole body.

Tips to Improve Breathing

You may be asking yourself why you need to improve your breathing. It’s a fair question. After all, at rest, you take 12 – 16 breaths per minute without even thinking about it. So just imagine what your breathing would be like if you were to start thinking about how you do it. Here you’ll find 5 top tips to improve breathing.

Begin by breathing more deeply. Don’t breathe from your chest but from your abdomen instead; your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is your main breathing muscle. It’s the one you really need to think about utilising when you breathe.

Unlike diaphragmatic breathing, chest breathing means you’ll only be taking in shallow breaths. Consequently, it doesn’t provide your body with the amount of oxygen it needs to function properly. As a result, chest breathing will take a toll on your body. Unfortunately, many of us will be chest breathers, as we lead busy lives and are constantly in a state of flight or fight. In addition to the lifestyle we lead, we may also chest breathe because of a poor posture. In fact, because more of us are working on screens – from mobiles to desktops – ‘screen-apnoea’ is fast becoming a new world condition.

Screen apnoea, poor posture – in fact, many things, can result in poor breathing habits. But there are ways to improve your breathing.

Tips to improve breathing

  1. Use Google’s new 1-minute Breathing Exercise tool. Search for ‘deep breathing’ or ‘breathing exercise(s)’ to get a 1-minute guided mindfulness exercise to control your breathing.
  2. Exercise your breathing muscles with Inspiratory Muscle Training.
  3. Learn to sing! It’ll help you to control your breathing.
  4. Improve your posture. Stand up straight and draw your shoulders up, back and down.
  5. Exercise to a level where speaking becomes difficult. This will improve your body’s ability to use oxygen.

Your lungs and exercise

It is well known that being active is good for you. If performed on a regular basis, it will improve your quality of life. In fact, regular exercise will also help you maintain a healthy heart and a healthy weight. Consequently, regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of serious illness. Furthermore, it helps to keep your lungs healthy too.

The European Respiratory Society has a fact sheet, that is free for all, about how exercise affects your lungs. It also explains how breathing is influenced by activity. Finally, it discusses the benefits of exercise for people with and without a lung condition. It is called Your Lungs and Exercise.

Are you a chest breather?

Place your left hand on your chest. Now place your right hand on your abdomen. Breathe in and see which hand rises more. If it’s your right hand, you’re breathing using your diaphragm. However, if your left-hand rises more, you are breathing from your chest.

If you’re breathing using your diaphragm, then you’re breathing as nature intended. However, if you’re a chest breather, then you’re not pulling the air into the base of your lungs. Consequently, this shallow breathing will affect your health. It creates tension in your body that can lead to all sorts of everyday problems.

Whether you’re breathing from the diaphragm or chest, you will still benefit from exercising your breathing muscles. Training these muscles with inspiratory muscle training will result in improvements such as breathing strength and stamina. In turn, it will reduce breathing fatigue and you’ll be able to do more, with less effort. So it’s definitely worth trying out our tips to improve breathing. Always check with a healthcare professional first, before starting any form of exercise.

Menopause & Lung Function Decline

New research finds that menopausal women may experience an increase in lung function decline. Menopause is Associated with Accelerated Lung Function Decline is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Cause of the menopause

As a woman gets older the balance in her sex hormones changes. The ovaries stop producing so much of the hormone oestrogen. This causes what we know as the menopause. Furthermore these changing levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone play a role in age-related inflammation. And although we don’t yet fully understand why, it appears that this decrease in oestrogen corresponds with a rise in the cytokines interleukin-1 and interleukin-6. This changes the rate at which new bone forms and is a leading indicator of osteoporosis.

Lung function decline

It’s this systemic inflammation that is associated with lung function decline. This is because osteoporosis shortens the height of the chest vertebrae. Consequently this limits the amount of air that can be inhaled.

The researchers say that lung function decline in menopausal women is comparable to smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 10 years. And researcher Kai Triebner at the Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen (UiB), Norway says that “The decline in lung function may cause an increase in shortness of breath, reduced work capacity and fatigue.”

Maintain respiratory health during and after menopause

The study shows this lung function decline exceeded the expected age-related decline. And because women are living longer beyond the menopause, it is important to maintain respiratory health. The study suggests that clinicians should be aware that respiratory health often deteriorates during reproductive ageing.

Reducing lung function decline

Healthy lungs have a large breathing reserve. But if you have reduced lung function you may use a large part of your breathing reserve. And it’s this that will make you feel short of breath. However regular physical exercise can help improve your lung function. In addition breathing exercises such as POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) are also beneficial.

POWERbreathe IMT can help

POWERbreathe IMT exercises your inspiratory muscles; the muscles you use to breathe in. These are mainly your diaphragm and intercostal muscles.

As you breathe in through the POWERbreathe IMT device your breathing has to work harder. This is because you are breathing in against a resistance. This resistance is adjustable so you are able to challenge yourself as your breathing becomes easier. And because you are exercising your breathing muscles they become stronger. And with stronger breathing muscles your breathing stamina improves too. Furthermore breathing fatigue will reduce. This means you’ll be able to do more with less effort. So the increase in shortness of breath, reduction in work capacity and fatigue that is highlighted in the study as a result of the menopause will reduce.

Breathe better and get fitter

Breathlessness is a common feature of lung and heart disease, but as we know all too well, it’s also a feature of normal exercise. Research has shown that the strength of the inspiratory muscles has a direct influence on how hard we can breathe and how breathless we feel whilst doing it.

If the muscles are weakened or fatigued (inspiratory muscles can fatigue by as much as 20%) then we can’t breathe as hard and breathing requires greater effort; we experience the effort as breathlessness.

Think about how much heavier a dummbbell feels on the 12th repetition than it did on the first. In the same way, if the inspiratory muscles are weakened or fatigued, breathing feels harder.

All is not lost though. POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training will help as it exercises your breathing muscles to make them stronger and more resistant to fatigue! And because your breathing stamina increases, your sports performance will improve and you’ll be able to exercise for longer with less effort.

Causes Of Inspiratory Muscle Weakness

Weak inspiratory muscles can be the result of a number of causes, including disease, but the amount of ‘exercise’ they receive has a huge influence upon their condition.

We use the phrase ‘use it or lose it’ to describe the best way to off-set problems that come with ageing, such as completing crosswords to keep the brain active, but it applies equally well to the inspiratory muscles. For instance if you start getting out of breath when climbing the stairs then next time you’ll choose to take the lift instead. The consequence of this is that your inspiratory muscles receive less ‘exercise’ and become weaker.

As your inspiratory muscles become weaker, the level of physical activity that makes you feel out of breath gets lower, so you avoid anything that makes you feel out breath even more, such as using the stairs, and it becomes a vicious cycle of shortness of breath, lack of exercise and inspiratory muscle weakness.

Also, if you have a condition such as asthma or emphysema, the use of oral steroid medication (not inhaled steroids*) to control lung inflammation has been shown to cause weakness of the inspiratory muscles. This weakness can impair lung function but it can be counteracted by inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe.
* Inhaled steroids do not cause inspiratory muscle weakness

So remember this simple exercise principle: USE IT or LOSE IT!

Use your POWERbreathe according to the scientifically established training regimen and you will see improvements. However stop using it and all benefits will be lost.

By training your inspiratory muscles daily with POWERbreathe, the following will be achieved:

  • Increase in resistance to fatigue (you can do a physical activity for longer with less effort)
  • Improved efficiency (less oxygen is required by the lungs and can therefore be used by your working muscles, such as the legs)

And the result… increased performance!

Benefits Of Inspiratory Only vs Inspiratory And Expiratory Muscle Training

With research papers and meta-analyses having shown the scientific benefits of training your inspiratory muscles with POWERbreathe for fitness and sports, health and lifestyle and medical issues related to breathing problems, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think then that training your expiratory muscles as well would be better still. Research to date however has yet to show this to be the case.

In a carefully conducted study on rowers, ‘The influence of inspiratory and expiratory muscle training upon rowing performance’ both the independent and combined effects of inspiratory and expiratory muscle training were compared.

No effect of expiratory muscle training upon performance was found during the study, and when inspiratory and expiratory muscle training were combined (inhale/exhale training), addition of the expiratory training impaired the effects of inspiratory training. In another study in swimmers using this inhale/exhale training, ‘Effects of concurrent inspiratory and expiratory muscle training on respiratory and exercise performance in competitive swimmers’ no change in swimming performance was found either after this type of training.

Both these studies indicate that inhale/exhale training is LESS effective than inspiratory muscle training alone.

Work Of Breathing – Figure 1 above:

The figure shown at the top of this blog illustrates the changes in breathing muscle contraction force and the resulting changes in lung volume at rest (red loop) and exercise (orange loop). The area below the dashed line (green) represents the amount of inspiratory muscle work and the area above the dashed line (blue), the amount of expiratory muscle work.

As the figure illustrates, at rest, all breathing muscle work is inspiratory.

During exercise it is clear that inspiratory muscle work is much higher than expiratory muscle work (as represented by the orange area on green compared with the orange area on blue).

How The Inspiratory Muscles Contribute To The Breathing Process

The diaphragm and chest wall muscles act together like a bellows to pump air in and out of the chest.

To breathe in these muscles contract to expand the chest cavity, causing a pressure drop into which the air flows. To breathe out, you simply relax these ‘inspiratory’ muscles and the chest springs back forcing the air out of your lungs.

During exercise the exhalation is assisted by contraction of the abdominal muscles and the inspiratory muscles undertake most of the work of breathing.

In contrast to observations of inspiratory muscle fatigue, research has not yet identified exercise-induced expiratory muscle fatigue which is why, until there is sufficient evidence to prove otherwise, it would be unnecessary to train anything other than the inspiratory muscles.

Also, while at rest, you breathe around 12 litres of air per minute, but during heavy exercise this can rise to over 150 litres per minute, and in elite athletes, this can be as high as 220 litres.

Scientific studies show that by exercising your inspiratory muscles with POWERbreathe you will increase the strength and stamina of your breathing muscles, reducing inspiratory fatigue and improving your performance.