Soothing a Cough

by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Your body's protective means of riding substances from breathing passageways, coughing can happen voluntarily and involuntarily. Since it is a built-in protective measure, coughing should never be completely suppressed, but there are times when you need to soothe a cough, especially so you can sleep.

Coughing can range from a being mild nuisance to a debilitating event. There are a few things that you can do to soothe a cough at home:

  • Increase your fluid intake, and especially clear fluids. Fluids help liquefy mucus and ease a dry throat.
  • Drink hot liquids such as tea or broth.
  • If you realize that your cough is caused by allergies, use an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Mucinex D.
  • Suck on cough drops or throat lozenges, or use a throat spray such as Chloraseptic.
  • For nighttime cough relief, use a cough syrup containing a sleep aid, such as Nyquil. Those products not only suppress your cough, they will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • If you have heavy mucus that you cannot cough out, use a cough syrup specially formulated with an expectorant. Expectorants make coughs more productive, helping rid airways of inhibiting mucus.
  • Remove any irritants around you such as cigarette smoke, heavy air fresheners, paint fumes, hairspray, and cleaning agent and cooking odors.
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer to moisten the air.
  • Take a very hot shower with the bathroom door closed. The steam will moisten the air and help break up thick mucus and relieve a dry cough.

Cough suppressants, also known as antitussives, are used for treating dry coughs. Some common over-the-counter and prescription cough suppressants contain varying degrees of codeine or dextromethorphan. Both reduce the impulse to cough by muting the nerve at the brain stem that controls the chest area. Interestingly, recent studies indicate that eating 50 grams or more of dark chocolate can help suppress persistent coughs, since dark chocolate contains theobromine—a natural antitussive, superior to codeine.

Productive coughs that contain phlegm are treated with expectorants. The two most widely used expectorant drugs are guaifenesin and acetylcysteine. Expectorants dilute thick mucus as well as lubricate the irritated respiratory tract. While you can purchase guaifenesin as an over-the-counter cough medicine, acetylcysteine can only be obtained by prescription, since it is administered with special inhalation equipment.

Whatever type of cough you have, if it lasts more than a week, make an appointment to see your doctor. Treating cough symptoms will only soothe your cough. Finding the cause of your cough will stop you from coughing.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

MORE FROM APRIL

Pruning Evergreens

Pruning evergreens takes quite a bit of time and patience, due to the nature of the spindly, twining branches. However, ...

Discover More

Oven-Fried Chicken with Baked Acorn Squash

If you think your guests or family might want more to eat than this menu provides, consider serving one or several side ...

Discover More

Natural Rugs

Although consumers today view the use of a natural rug as a trendy, conscious effort to be eco-friendly, ancient ...

Discover More
More Health Tips

Understanding Asbestosis

Asbestos is a natural mineral that everyone is exposed to during their lifetime without incurring any health risks. Problems ...

Discover More

How Do You Know if You Have the Flu?

Recognizing flu symptoms for what they are can help you heal more quickly. Knowing how to prevent the flu can help you to ...

Discover More

Treating the Common Cold

Everyone suffers from the common cold and knowing how to treat it can benefit you and your loved ones. There are several ...

Discover More
Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)