Productive Coughs

There’s no way around it: mucus trapped in the respiratory tract has to go somewhere. Often, it comes out thanks to a productive, or “wet” cough.

Productive Coughs vs. Nonproductive Coughs

Sometimes we cough an extreme amount, and nothing happens. Other times, we cough up plenty of mucus and feel a little better each time we do it. Coughs that help kick mucus out of the respiratory tract are productive coughs. Those dry, nagging, hacking coughs that don’t produce much of anything are called nonproductive coughs.

Nightime Cough Relief for a Good Night’s Sleep

Bedtime is not the ideal time to deal with a cough—productive or not. There are steps you can take to reduce the amount of coughing interrupting your sleep:

  1. Use an extra pillow. Propping your head and neck up a bit counteracts the gravitational pull that allows mucus to pool in your throat.
  2. Avoid eating right before bed if you're prone to acid reflux. This is especially true for hefty portions or foods that tend to trigger your symptoms.
  3. Take a steamy shower before bed. Warm mist can help ease mucus and cough symptoms by creating a moister environment.
  4. Use a humidifier. You can also add moisture to the air you breathe in with a humidifier, which releases steam. For best results and safety, follow product instructions and keep the device clean.
  5. Stay well-hydrated. Drinking water and other fluids, such as broth or caffeine-free herbal tea, can help reduce dryness that may contribute to nighttime coughing.
  6. Take an OTC Nighttime Cough Relief to help you sleep. Mucinex® DM is formulated to relieve coughing and lasts 12 hours. It also contains Guaifenesin to thin and loosen mucus so that any coughing that does happen will be more productive.

Making Coughs More Productive Day or Night

You can make your cough more productive by hydrating as well as using expectorants. Mucinex® DM lasts 12 hours and can help coughing and relieve chest congestion by thinning and loosening mucus. This is thanks to a formulation that combines Dextromethorphan HBr and Guaifenesin—a one-two punch for controlling coughs and making them more productive. As with any over-the-counter medication, use only as directed. 

Treating Productive Coughs: When to See a Doctor

If your cough symptoms do not improve over a week or worsen suddenly, it’s time to see your doctor.