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What is the Best Cough Relief?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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Coughs have many different causes, such as allergies, smoking, illness, or dryness in the environment and weather changes. Productive coughs, which are typically caused by the flu or a cold, occur when one is coughing up mucus and phlegm. Dry coughs are often caused by virtually any other reason, and can be very hard to cure. Fortunately, there are some options for cough relief to try.

The first step to cough relief is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This can help treat illness and relieve a dry cough, and is important for the health of the entire body. In addition to drinking water, a hot beverage such as tea with honey can be a great way to treat a cough and relieve a sore throat. Honey is often recommended as a treatment for cough relief.

Steam and moist air can be a great option for relief of a dry cough. Standing over a pot of hot, steaming water can help to relieve a cough; be careful not to get too close to boiling water, though. Standing in a hot shower can have a similar effect. At night, setting up a humidifier near where one sleeps can be excellent cough relief, because the humidifier can help to eliminate dry air that irritates the throat.

Of course, there are over-the-counter medications available for cough relief as well. These may be intended as cough suppressants, which can be helpful in allowing one to get better sleep at night. Others are expectorants, which are intended to make coughs more productive, and therefore encourage one to get better from a cold or the flu. Be sure to always follow the directions carefully on the package, as some cough medications can cause drowsiness, and should not be taken during the day, unless one is staying in bed. If a cough is caused by allergies, an allergy medication may be helpful as well.

If a cough is accompanied by a fever, or persists for more than a few weeks, it might be a good idea to call a doctor. He or she might recommend antibiotics or other treatments for any underlying illness that could be causing the cough. Of course, quitting smoking is very important both for cough relief and for the overall health. Again, if cough persists for a period of time even after quitting smoking, it is a good idea to see a doctor and rule out any serious complications.

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Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Jan 07, 2012

Cough suppressants can be lifesavers when you have been lying awake for hours, trying to sleep but struggling with a persistent hacking. I keep a bottle of this syrup on hand for emergencies like this.

When I get a cold, it usually comes with a cough. This cough worsens when I lie down. The suppressant is the only thing that gets me through the night.

I have seen some cough medications that combine an expectorant with a suppressant. I don't understand the logic here. How can a medicine suppress your cough while making you cough up phlegm?

By Oceana — On Jan 06, 2012

Over-the-counter cough treatment can be helpful when you don't have a bacterial infection. I got a terrible cough that an expectorant cleared right up.

I had been using a fuzzy blanket for several nights. I would wake up coughing, and my chest felt like something was trapped inside it.

It turned out I was allergic to the blanket's material. I also believe I had probably inhaled some loose fuzzies.

I got rid of the blanket and bought a cough expectorant from my pharmacy, and I coughed my little heart out until the need passed. After that, all was well.

By shell4life — On Jan 06, 2012

@perdido - When I get a bacterial infection that leads to chest congestion and a productive cough, antibiotics are the only thing that will help me. Believe me, I have tried every over-the-counter and home remedy out there, and nothing else works.

By the time the cough goes into my chest, my body has been weakened by the disease and is having trouble fighting it off. Antibiotics help my immune system in the battle against the bacteria.

I have tried just waiting it out and hoping it will get better, but it always gets worse. The sooner you go to the doctor and get help, the quicker you will feel so much better.

By Perdido — On Jan 05, 2012

I have some chest congestion that won't seem to go away. It started out as a sinus infection, but now, I can scarcely breathe without having a violent coughing fit.

I have a friend who is into herbal remedies and natural cures, and I have tried every cough remedy she has suggested. None of them have even made a small difference.

Can anyone tell me what you think the best way to get rid of a productive cough? I have tried various cough syrups and decongestants, but nothing has worked so far. I'm so ready to be rid of this sickness!

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