Our resident pharmacist recommends the best cough remedies for dry and chesty coughs.
By Rita Ghelani (BPharm, MRPharmS)
Can’t stop coughing? Cold and flu season is here, and from a tickly to a chesty or a persistent cough, it can be frustrating if you just can’t shake it. A cough usually clears up on its own within 3-4 weeks but there are a few things you can do at home to speed up the process.
Our resident pharmacist Rita Ghelani recommends the best over-the-counter cough remedies, so you can focus on getting better.
What type of cough do you have?
A cough is a protective reflex that is basically your body trying to expel unwanted substances from the airways. There are two main types of cough:
• Chesty cough: caused by the build up of excess mucus in the lungs.
• Dry cough: 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.
✔️ Treatment: 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 guaifensesin, ipecacuanha and squill. Taking these with a small amount of warm water will help liquefy the mucus.
How to get rid of 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.
✔️ Treatment: 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 relieve your cough
Research suggests that it is not necessary to distinguish between whether a cough is dry or chesty for treatment, since cough is a reflex reaction, and that it is better to look at ways to relieve the cough and any associated symptoms.
✔️ Treatment: Using a cough syrup or cough lozenge that coats the throat and has 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 to help soothe your throat
Irrespective of your type of cough, the associated symptoms can be debilitating. Try the following tips and don’t forget: rest is best!
✔️ Drink 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 steam inhalation
This will help to loosen up mucus in your airways.
✔️ Suck a cough lozenge
This will help to keep the back of your throat lubricated. Try Jakemans menthol sweets.
✔️ Gargle with warm water and salt
This will help clear away viruses and bacteria at the back of the throat.
✔️ Take supplements
Zinc and vitamin C or herbal supplement Echinacea could give your immune system a boost.