Coughing is your body’s natural response to foreign substances in the airways or the throat. It is triggered by the nervous system, which produces a spasm of the muscles in the chest, pushing the air out of the lungs at an incredible speed. Anything from a common cold to respiratory infections, chronic obstructive disorders, and smoking can cause a cough. Most of the time when the underlying condition is removed, coughing resolves itself. In some chronic cases, prolonged coughing can strain the chest muscles, causing pain, injuring the rib cage, or even causing spontaneous pneumothorax, a condition in which a portion of the tissue separating the lungs collapses. In Chinese medicine, a cough, like nausea and vomiting, is considered a rebellious upsurge of energy. It’s often a result of pathogens in the lungs, and sometimes it can be due to emotional turmoil aggravating the liver-gallbladder network, whose energy surges upward and injures the lungs. Most of the cough cases we treat are the result of common colds, allergies, or respiratory infections. Many are also due to acid reflux. We see the best results when we use acupuncture and cupping therapies to quickly relieve the cough, followed by fast-acting herbal therapy to soothe the bronchial tubes, redirect the energy downward, open the lungs to promote respiration, and remove the underlying condition. Mucus or phlegm is often a culprit in a chronic cough. In Chinese medicine, the saying “The spleen creates dampness and mucus and the lungs are the storehouse” explains how diet and digestive weakness cause a buildup of dampness and phlegm that accumulates in the lungs, leading to a rebellion of the lung energy. In many cases, reducing and clearing out the mucus will ease the cough
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