How should I treat a cough?

You may not need treatment for a cough. A cough that has started recently will most often go away without treatment after a few weeks. However, treatment may make you feel more comfortable in the meantime. Many cough medications are sold over the counter. Most work equally well and have few side effects. Another option is to make homemade cough syrup from honey, lemon and hot tea or hot water.
Here are some things to know and try to help treat a cough:
  • Stay away from smoke. Smoke irritates your lungs and airways. If you smoke, stop. If someone in your family smokes, make them go outside to smoke.
  • Drink enough liquid. Water can help loosen mucus. Drinking plenty of water makes it easier to cough up and get rid of mucus.
  • Sleep with your head raised. Using an extra pillow to raise your head a little may help your cough.
  • Suck on cough drops or hard candy. But do not give these to children under 5 years old, because they can choke.
  • Try honey. But do not give honey to children under 1 year old.
  • Talk with a doctor or pharmacist about what medicines may help your symptoms. You can get some medicines at a pharmacy or grocery store without a prescription. Do not give cough medicine to children under 2 years old.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.