How to treat you Cough during COVID -19




With the COVID 19 virus doing it’s rounds we thought it would be helpful to give you a few practical ideas that you can do at home to treat your cough if you get sick with COVID 19. These tips and advice are not just good for when you have Corona but it will also help for any other lung issue associated with viruses and your common colds.

What is the COVID 19?

COVID 19 or the Corona virus is a respiratory type of virus that is currently bringing the whole world to a stop. The origin of the virus is not yet known. Scientist believe that it started at a life market in Wuhan, China where it jumped species and then started to transmit between humans. Transmission takes place through droplets that you either breathe in when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eye, nose or ear.

The most common symptoms of the Corona virus include:
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Cough
Other symptoms include:
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea

Most people only get mild symptoms of the disease but in some cases, people get more serious conditions that can ultimately lead to death. The most common complication is when people develop a severe pneumonia. Doctors have reported that some patients also develop cystic fibrosis that ultimately lead to permanent lung damage. These patients struggle to get off ventilators and their prognosis are not good.

Who is at risk for developing severe symptoms?

Currently it seems that older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes)  appears to be more at risk to develop a serious illness.

What can you do to prevent infection?

The WHO recommends basic hygiene and social distancing as first priority to prevent infection.

Basic hygiene includes:

  • Washing hands at least 20 sec with soap and water
  • Using 70% Alcohol hand sanitizer
  • Wearing protective clothes when you are dealing with a positive corona person.

Social distancing includes:

  • Keeping at least 1 meter distance between people
  • Staying at home is the best way of preventing infection

Prevention is always better than cure, but let say you do get the virus or any virus that attacks the lungs. Here is a video on some good tips that you can do at home if you struggle to breath, it might just help you from becoming worse.

Tip 1: Drink enough water.

If you take enough fluids in it will help the phlegm in your lung to become looser so that you can cough it out easier.

Tip 2: Use a Humidifier in your room.

South Africa has very dry air. So to use a humidifier will put moisture back into the air and this will help you to breathe easier.

Tip 3: Use a nebuliser.

Nebulisation help to loosen up the phlegm inside the lung. It can also help you to breathe better. Use normal or hyper-tonic saline that you can get at your local pharmacy. You can also call your doctor to get some medication that will open up the chest wall. Please take note that the WHO recommends not to use a nebuliser if there are any other family members or healthcare personal in the same room as the patients. This is to avoid transmission of the virus.

Tip 4: Use Vicks.

You can put it on your chest or at the back of you back. This will help you to breathe easier. If you don’t have a nebuliser you can dissolve the Vicks into the boiling water and then you can breathe in the steam. Please just make sure that you don’t burn yourself. This will definitely help you breathe easier.

Tip 5: Deep Breathing Exercises.

The breathing exercises include:

  • Active Cycle of Breathing
  • Bronc-u-vibe exercises
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing / Belly Breathing
  • Blow Bottle exercises
  • Pursed lip breathing exercises

A) Active Cycle of Breathing

Active cycle of breathing exercises is a very effective technique physio’s use to get patients to clear the lungs. Take 5 deep breaths in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Do not force the breath out. After 5 reps do to Huff sounds, force the breath out. Then cough. Do as many sets as needed to clear the lungs from phlegm.

B) Bronc-u-vibe exercises

A Bronc-u-vibe is a nifty little device that helps to clear the lung from phlegm. This makes a vibration in to the lung to help loosen up phlegm. You can get this at your physiotherapist. Breath through the device. You will feel a vibration in the lung. Do 10 reps. Try to exhale for as long as you can without forcing the air out. With the last rep force the air out and then cough. Do 3 set of 10, or until the lung sounds clear.

C) Diaphragmatic Breathing / Belly Breathing

The diaphragm is our main breathing muscle. Research shows that if you use your diaphragm optimally you can get up to 30% more oxygen to your body. It facilitates coughing and helps to drain lymph and old air that is trapped in the basal lobes of the lung. If old air is out of the lung it makes space for new air that will help with shortness of breath. The diaphragm is also innervated by the valgus nerve. The valgus nerve forms part of the parasympathetic nervous system (Help us to rest and digest). It thus indirectly helps to reduce stress levels. If you stress levels it will help your immune system.

Lie on your back. Bent your knees. Breath in through your nose, while you push your tummy upwards. Try to relax the upper chest wall and only focus on breathing through the belly.

D) Blow a bubbles in a glass/ Make a blow bottle

You can make your own blow bottle by using a plastic bottle, make a hole on the side and use a straw or a pipe. Fill the bottle with water and blow bubbles into the bottle. You can blow for as long as possible. Repeat this 10 times.

If you don’t have a bottle you can use glass with a straw to blow bubbles.

This expiration exercise will create a negative pressure in the lung which will help to open the alveoli/air bubbles in the lungs.

E) Pursed lip breathing.

If you struggle with shortness of breath you can do some pursed lip breathing techniques. Purse you lips when you breath out. Try to exhale for as long as possible before you take a deep breath in. This will ensure that all the CO2 is out of your lungs to make space for more O2.

Tip 6: Sleep/Lie on your tummy

Tummy sleeping as proven to be a very effective technique to help with shortness of breath. When you lie on your tummy you increase blood supply to the lungs. This will result in more oxygenation which will help with shortness of breath.

WHO picture on how avoid transmission

Please take note that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID 19 transmits through droplets in the air. To ensure that you don’t infect other family members you should take extra precautions at home when you treat your cough. Treat yourself in a separate room were other family members does not get to, to avoid transmission.

Please stay safe during the lock-down and remember to wash your hands and follow the rules.

Please contact us if you need personalised advice over a online consultation.

Just Physio - Contact Us

  • Please call the COVID- 19 Hotline if you think you have been exposed to COVID 19.   080 002 9999 or see for more information.

Written by: Adrien Dannhauser (BPhyst, SPT1)