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What are the Best Cough Remedies?

Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to treat a cough.
Cough drops, which soothe sore throats and suppress coughing, are usually pleasant tasting.
There are many possible remedies for a cough.
Humidifiers add cooling mist to the environment to ease coughs.
A bottle of OTC cough medicine.
Antibiotics may be necessary if a person with a cough develops a sinus infection or other complication.
Chicken soup can also help treat a cough.
Coughs that last for several days could indicate a bacterial infection.
Cough remedies may reduce coughing to allow for sleep.
Honey can help relieve a cough.
Codeine cough syrup is very effective at treating a cough.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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Cough remedies come in numerous types, and looking down an aisle at a local pharmacy, shoppers will find a bunch that promise to end coughs and promote comfort. It would be fantastic if these actually worked, but many have been judged relatively ineffective. Thus finding the appropriate cough remedy is something like attempting to capture the wisdom of the ages and modern science at the same time, and there are a few methods that may help ultimately end cough.

Most people will first consider over the counter (OTC) cough remedies, and these usually come in a few forms. The most common are suppressants, usually containing dextromethorphan, and expectorants, which typically have active ingredients like guaifenesin. Some medications combine these two ingredients, and others add decongestants or antihistamines as a way of relieving coughs. Studies on them suggest that the amounts available in OTC brands are actually too small to be particularly effective. They might temporarily relieve minor coughing, but they’re not usually long-lasting.

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Problems exist with taking these medications too. Some people, especially those with high blood pressure who take blood thinners, or who are on antidepressants, may need to avoid medications with both of these main cough products. Also, some of the OTC medicines have very high alcohol levels that might be abused by teens or children. Typically, decongestants don’t do much to relieve coughs and may make the throat drier, and antihistamines can make people sleepy, but won’t be very effective unless the cough is a direct result of allergies.

Doctors may then turn to prescribed cough remedies like codeine, especially as combined with promethazine, an antihistamine. Directions on these may be to only use them at night to reduce cough and promote sleep. But during the day, cough can be important because it helps to produce mucus, which can clear the lungs and throat.

One of the most simple and effective cough remedies is to drink water and lots of it. Drinking water helps thin mucus and can ultimately reduce coughing. Some people find relief in drinking hot water with ingredients like licorice, ginger or lemon. Moreover, chicken soup is a tried and true method for thinning sinus secretions.

Honey is another proven remedy, more effective than dextromethorphan, but honey should not be used for kids under two. It contains botulism spores that may affect young children, though these typically have no effect on kids over the age of two. Cough drops, especially with glycerin can also provide some relief and may coat the throat reducing throat irritation. When a cough is due to upper sinus congestion, using nasal washes can help reduce mucus pooling in the throat and be one of the more effective cough remedies.

For chocolate lovers, studies suggest another remedy that may be fairly tasty. Dark chocolate, which contains a chemical called theobromine, has been shown in limited studies to be more effective than codeine at preventing coughs. Though more studies might be required to prove chocolate to be one of the effective cough remedies, there is certainly little harm in trying it.

Antibiotics are usually not the first choice among cough remedies. However, a cough that is very severe and lasts for more than a few days, and especially if accompanied by fever could indicate bacterial infection. When cough remedies aren’t working and cough continues, people should see their doctors to rule out infection. Any cough remedies, natural or over the counter will have little effect on a person with bacterial bronchitis or pneumonia.

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burcinc
Post 3

I make my own humidifier when I have a cold and when I'm coughing. I just boil water and put it into a basin. I hold my face over it and cover my head with a large towel so that air doesn't get in. Then I breathe in the evaporating water. Sometimes I put a drop of eucalyptus oil in it.

This works much like a decongestant. It actually makes me cough but after ten minutes of coughing and inhaling, I feel so much better. My cough lessens considerably afterward.

SteamLouis
Post 2

@ysmina-- Can your mom use honey? If she doesn't have diabetes, honey should be okay. She can put some honey and fresh ginger into warm milk and sip on this every time she has an urge to cough. It works great, especially for nighttime coughing when taken before bed.

There are also other herbs and spices that can be used as cough remedies such as cinnamon, peppercorns, turmeric, cloves and cardamom. Not only do these help with coughs and congestion but many of them also have antiviral and antibacterial properties. So they help by fighting the infection and strengthening the immune system.

One other thing that could be done is gargling. Simply dissolve salt into hot water and let it cool. Use this to gargle several times a day to soothe the inflammation in the throat. It also works well for post-nasal drip which can trigger coughs.

ysmina
Post 1

My mom has high blood pressure so she cannot use over the counter cough medications. They raise her blood pressure to dangerous levels.

When she has a cough, she has a hard time dealing with it for this reason. There isn't much that she can do aside from sipping on hot liquids, having hot soup and sucking on cough drops.

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