Woman on cough covering cough with hand

How To Ease Coughing with OTC Cough Relief

14 Aug 2018

Living with a persistent cough can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Whether it's due to a common cold, allergies, or other underlying conditions, finding ways to alleviate coughing is essential for restoring comfort and overall well-being.

This article will provide you with useful information and effective remedies to help you stop coughing and find relief.

Coughing is a natural reflex that helps clear the airways of mucus, irritants, and foreign particles. Various factors, including respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, post-nasal drip, or even acid reflux can cause it. In some cases, individuals may have a cough that is caused by a blood pressure drug that they may have recently been started on.

Understanding the underlying cause of your cough is crucial in determining the most appropriate treatment approach.

Common Causes of Coughing

There are several common causes of coughing. These include viral infections such as the common cold or flu, allergies triggered by pollen or pet dander; irritants like smoke or air pollution, and underlying conditions like asthma or chronic bronchitis. Identifying the cause of your cough can help you address it more effectively.

Understanding Coughing: Types and Causes

Before diving into the remedies, it's important to understand the different types and causes of coughing. This knowledge will allow you to choose the most suitable option for stopping your cough.

1. Dry Cough

A dry cough, also known as a non-productive cough, is characterized by the absence of mucus or phlegm. Various factors such as allergies, irritants, or even a tickle can cause it in your throat. Dry coughs can be particularly irritating, and persistent, but with the right remedies, you can find relief.

2. Productive Cough

A productive cough, also known as a hacking cough, is one that produces phlegm or mucus. It is often associated with respiratory infections such as the common cold or flu. Productive coughs help clear the airways from excessive mucus and are typically a sign that your body is fighting off an infection.

3. Allergies and Irritants

Allergies and irritants in the air can trigger coughing fits, especially in individuals with sensitivities. Common triggers include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and certain chemicals. Identifying and minimizing exposure to these allergens and irritants can help reduce coughing.

Home Remedies for Coughing

If you're experiencing a mild cough, there are several home remedies you can try to relieve your symptoms.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, or warm broths, can help soothe your throat and thin out phlegm, making it easier to expel.

Gargle with Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water can provide temporary relief for a sore throat and reduce inflammation, potentially alleviating coughing.

Use a Humidifier

Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier or by taking a hot shower can help ease coughing, especially if it's caused by dry air or allergies.

Honey and Warm Drinks

Honey has natural soothing properties and can help relieve coughing. Adding it to warm herbal teas or lemon water may provide relief.

Steam Inhalation

Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water or using a warming humidifier can help loosen mucus and ease coughing caused by congestion.

OTC Cough Relief Medications

Over-the-counter cough medications can help provide temporary relief from coughing symptoms. One effective OTC option is the Mucinex® line of Cough and Chest Congestion Products.

Mucinex® for Cough Relief

Some Mucinex® products contain expectorants that help thin and loosen mucus in the airways, making it easier to cough up. Products containing an expectorant can help make your coughs more productive and help relieve uncomfortable symptoms.

Man trying to stop coughing


How to Calm Daytime Coughing

If you're experiencing daytime coughing, there are several strategies you can try to calm your cough and find relief:

Drink plenty of fluids

Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, such as water, herbal teas, or warm broths. Staying hydrated helps to soothe an irritated throat and thin out mucus, making it easier to cough up.

Use cough drops or lozenges

Sucking on cough drops or lozenges can help soothe your throat and suppress the urge to cough temporarily.

Avoid irritants

Stay away from smoke, strong odors, and other environmental irritants that can trigger or worsen your cough.

Practice good cough etiquette

When you need to cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cough into your elbow to prevent the spread of germs.

Try over-the-counter cough suppressants

Over-the-counter cough suppressants can help temporarily alleviate daytime coughing. However, it's important to read and follow the instructions on the packaging and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

How to Quell a Nighttime Cough

Nighttime coughing can disrupt your sleep and make you feel restless. Here are some tips to help ease a nighttime cough and promote better sleep:

Elevate your head

Use an extra pillow or raise the head of your bed slightly to keep your airways more open and reduce post nasal drip that can trigger coughing at night.

Create a soothing environment

Use a humidifier in your bedroom to add moisture to the air and prevent dryness that can irritate your throat and trigger coughing.

Avoid irritants before bedtime

Avoid exposure to smoke, allergens, and other irritants before going to bed. This can help minimize nighttime coughing episodes. Running an air purifier while you sleep may help with filtering irritants.

Use cough syrup or nighttime formulas

Over-the-counter cough syrups or nighttime formulas specifically designed to relieve coughing and promote sleep can be helpful. Make sure you follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if needed.

Try natural remedies

Sipping on warm herbal teas, using throat sprays, or inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water before bed can help soothe your throat and suppress coughing before bed.

Remember, if your cough persists or worsens, it's important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

Understanding How Mucinex® Works

There are Mucinex® products that contain an active ingredient called guaifenesin, which works by increasing the volume and reducing the viscosity of mucus in the respiratory tract.

By doing so, these products help to loosen phlegm and expel mucus, providing relief from chest congestion. Mucinex® makes OTC cough and chest congestion medicine in various formulations, such as tablets, liquids, and extended-release forms, allowing you to choose the most suitable option for your needs.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Coughing

While most coughs are generally harmless and resolve on their own, there are instances when medical attention is necessary. You should consult a healthcare professional if

  • You have a chronic cough that persists for more than a week or becomes a severe cough.
  • You experience chest pains or difficulty breathing.
  • You have a high fever, particularly if accompanied by chills and body aches.
  • Coughing up blood or yellow or green mucus accompanies your cough.
  • You have underlying health conditions such as asthma or heart disease.

A healthcare professional can evaluate your symptoms, diagnose the underlying cause of your cough, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Lifestyle Tips to Prevent Coughing

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some lifestyle tips to help prevent coughing:

  • Practice good hand hygiene to reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
  • Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and other irritants.
  • Keep your home environment clean and free from allergens.
  • Stay hydrated to keep your airways moist.
  • Practice stress management techniques, as stress can worsen coughing symptoms.

Incorporating these habits into your daily routine can help minimize the occurrence of coughing episodes.

Coughing can be a bothersome symptom that disrupts daily life and causes discomfort. By understanding the causes of coughing and implementing effective remedies, you can find relief and improve your overall well-being.

Home remedies such as staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and trying honey-based drinks can provide relief. Additionally, over-the-counter medications with an expectorant active ingredient can be effective in helping manage coughing symptoms. Remember, if your cough persists or worsens, seeking medical attention is essential.

How To Stop Coughing FAQs

Can coughing be a symptom of a serious underlying condition?

While coughing is often caused by common conditions like colds or allergies, it can also be a symptom of more serious underlying conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis. If you're concerned about your cough, it's best to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Is it normal to cough up mucus during a coughing episode?

Coughing up mucus can be a normal part of the body's defense mechanism to clear the airways. However, if you notice any abnormal color or consistency in the mucus, or if you experience persistent coughing up blood, it's important to seek medical attention.

Can over-the-counter cough medications cause side effects?

Over-the-counter cough medications like Mucinex® are generally safe when used as directed. However, some individuals may experience side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, or an upset stomach. It's always recommended to read and follow the instructions on the packaging or consult a pharmacist if you have any concerns.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help prevent coughing?

Maintaining good hand hygiene, avoiding irritants like smoke, keeping your home clean and free from allergens, staying hydrated, and managing stress can all contribute to helping prevent coughing episodes.

Can Mucinex® be used to stop coughs in children?

Mucinex® products have specific dosages and formulations for different age groups. It's important to read the packaging or consult a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and suitability for children. Some Mucinex® products are formulated specifically for children and provide safe and effective relief from coughing.

  1. Mayo Clinic, 2020, Cough Causes
  2. Kaiser Permanente, 2022, Productive Coughs
  3. CDC, 2099, Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette in Healthcare Settings

Featured Articles

Cold & Flu Sore Throat Relief Op...
A sore throat can be an uncomfortable and frustrating condition that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. It can interfere with our ability to eat, speak, and even breathe com...
Read More
Why Am I Waking Up With Phlegm? ...
Many people who experience morning congestion commonly ask themselves, “Why am I waking up with phlegm?” Phlegm in your throat is a common and bothersome physical condition that can occur after ...
Read More
What Medicine Reduces Fever? Exp...
For those wondering what medicine reduces fever, several medicines and over-the-counter (OTC) treatment options are available. Fevers are often a symptom of various illnesses, which can be distr...
Read More