The best ways to get rid of a cough, according a pharmacist

We look at the useful cough remedies

By Rita Ghelani

It’s that time of year where we frequently get a troublesome cough. Whether it’s a tickly, chesty or persistent cough, it can be frustrating to deal with and you’ll do all you can do get rid of it.

What type of cough do you have?

A cough is a protective reflex that will try and expel unwanted substances from the airways. There are two main types of cough – a chesty cough that is caused by the buildup of excess mucus in the lungs and a dry cough that is caused by irritation in the upper airways and throat.

How to get rid of a chesty cough

A chesty cough produces thin clear mucus that the body tries to clear away by coughing. Using cough medicines, referred to as expectorants will help to break up and loosen excess mucus – making it easier to clear away by coughing and reducing the risk of getting a build-up of mucus in the lungs. Expectant cough medicines usually contain guaifensesinipecacuanha and squill. Taking these with a small amount of warm water will help liquefy the mucus and hydrate the lungs.

How to treat a dry cough

A dry cough doesn’t usually produce any mucus, it often starts as a tickle in the back of the throat. Dry coughs can make your throat feel sore and may make you feel more tired, especially if your sleep is disturbed due to the cough. A dry cough can sometimes be due to postnasal drip – this is when mucus runs down the back of the nose into the throat. This can trigger a cough, that may be worse at night when you lie down. A dry cough can be treated by using a cough suppressant medicine such as pholcodine or dextromethorphan – these work on the cough centre in the brain to reduce the coughing reflex.

How to treat your cough

Recent research suggests that it is not necessary to distinguish between whether a cough is dry or chesty for treatment, since cough is reflex reaction that it is better to look at ways to treat relief the cough and any associated symptoms. Using a cough syrup or cough lozenge that coat the throat and have a soothing effect may be the best option. Try Unicough solution that is formulated to help manage the cough reflex and soothe throat.

Top tips with help soothe that cough:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids – warm drinks made with lemon and honey can be soothing.
  • Get plenty of rest – your body needs the energy to fight off any virus that may be causing the cough
  • Try some steam inhalation to loosening up mucus in your airways.
  • Suck a cough lozenge to keep the back of your throat lubricated. Try Jakemans menthol sweets.
  • Try gargling with warm water and salt – this will help clear away viruses and bacteria at the back of the throat.
  • Take a supplement to boost your immune system – try Zinc and vitamin C or herbal supplement Echinacea.

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