Although coughing can be a troubling symptom, it is usually your body's way of healing. Here are some tips to help ease your cough:
- If you have a dry, tickling cough, try cough drops or hard candy. NEVER give these to a child under age 3, because they can cause choking.
- Use a vaporizer or take a steamy shower. Both these things increase the moisture in the air and can help soothe a dry throat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Liquids help thin the mucus in your throat and make it easier to cough it up.
NOTE: Medical experts have recommended against using cough and cold drugs in children under age 6. Talk to your doctor before your child takes any type of over-the-counter cough medicine, even if it is labeled for children. These medicines likely will not work for children, and they may have serious side effects.
Medications available without a prescription include:
- Guaifenesin helps break up mucus. Drink lots of fluids if you take this medicine.
- Decongestants help clear a runny nose and relieve postnasal drip. Do NOT give children under age 6 an over-the-counter decongestant unless specifically told to do so by your doctor. You should check with your doctor before taking decongestants if you have high blood pressure.
Do not expect a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections like colds or flu. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. Antibiotics also will not help coughs from allergies.
Call your health care provider if
Call 911 if you have:
Review Date: 05/25/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.