A persistent cough is painful and frustrating. It can have many causes, from a dry throat to mucus from your sinuses to asthma. To be able to stop coughing quickly, it is important that you choose the right solution for your type of cough.
Method 1 of 3: Hydrating yourself
Step 1. Have a drink
When you are sick, drinking fluids is the most important thing you can do to prevent coughing. If your cough is caused by a dry throat, you may just need some fluids. Even if your cough has other causes, it's never a bad idea to drink a lot.
- If your throat is raw or irritated from coughing, avoid drinks that could irritate it further, such as acidic fruit juices.
- Also be careful with dairy. It's not true that milk causes more mucus in your throat, but milk - especially whole milk - can leave a layer in your throat that makes it feel like you have more mucus in your throat. If, on the other hand, your cough is caused by an irritated or dry throat, cold dairy products can actually have a soothing effect.
- Always choose water when in doubt.
Step 2. Warm up your drink
With certain types of coughs, such as those caused by constipation or mucus from the sinuses, warm liquids can be even more effective than cold or room temperature drinks.
Whether you choose the all-time favorite herbal tea with honey or just hot water with lemon, any warm liquid can help clear the mucus from your airways, according to doctors
Step 3. Try a saline solution
A saline solution works especially well when you have to cough because you have a cold or the flu.
Gargle with saline or use a saline nasal spray to kill the viruses or bacteria that are causing the postnasal drip that makes you cough. This also flushes the mucus from your throat, providing temporary relief
Step 4. Consider using steam
This can help in some cases. It is often said that steam from a hot shower or humidifier can help get rid of a cough. However, this is only the case if your cough is caused by dry air.
Humid air can make your cough worse if it's caused by a blockage, asthma, dust mites, or mold
Method 2 of 3: Changing your environment
Step 1. Keep your body upright
If your body is in a horizontal position, mucus can build up in your throat.
If you have a cough and you go to sleep, for example, you should put several pillows under your head to prevent mucus from your sinuses from flowing into your throat, causing you to cough
Step 2. Get clean air
Stay away from polluted air, including cigarette smoke. Airborne particles can make you cough or make a pre-existing cough caused by something else worse.
Strong odors such as perfumes can cause some people to cough, even if they don't irritate others
Step 3. Provide still air
Avoid wind, running fans, radiators, and air conditioning, as moving air can make your cough worse.
Many people who have a cough think that moving air makes the problem worse by further drying out the airways or by irritating the airways, causing them to cough
Step 4. Try breathing exercises
Most breathing exercises are for people with a chronic condition such as COPD, but anyone with a cough can actually use them.
Techniques you can try include controlled coughing and pursed-lipped breathing. In this second technique, you start by breathing in deeply through your nose and counting to two. Then purse your lips as if you were going to whistle and exhale slowly while counting to four
Method 3 of 3: Take the next steps
Step 1. Take medicine
Try cough medicines if your cough persists.
Cough medicines often contain two ingredients: an expectorant that loosens the mucus and a cough suppressant. Read the package to choose the remedy that works best for your cough
Step 2. Soothe your throat
Sip on throat treats, eat frozen foods (such as popsicles), or gargle with saline to soothe your throat if it's inflamed from coughing.
Many cough medicines contain a mild anesthetic to suppress the cough reflex. Cold foods like popsicles are thought to work the same way by temporarily numbing the throat
Step 3. Try remedies that contain menthol
Whether you use tablets, balm or ointment for inhalation vapor, menthol has been proven to help soothe your cough.
Menthol raises the so-called "cough threshold," which means that you need to be more stimulated to cough
Step 4. Know when to see a doctor
If your cough is accompanied by shortness of breath, bloody mucus, severe pain, fever over 38 degrees Celsius, or other serious symptoms, consider seeing a doctor.