Cough Treatment

Can this condition be treated? What Cough treatment options are available? Learn more below about the current treatments available to patients.


Take Action

  • Screening
  • Medications
  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Alternative Treatment
  • Care Guide
  • Questions for Your Doctor
  • When to Contact a Doctor
  • Find a Doctor
  • Resource Guide

How to Treat Cough

The best treatment for a cough is to treat the responsible underlying condition. A cough can also be treated with medications that either:

  • Make the cough more productive
  • Suppress the cough

In a Public Health Advisory, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products should not be used to treat infants or children less than two years old. Rare but serious side effects have been reported, including death, convulsions, rapid heart rates, and decreased levels of consciousness. OTC cough and cold products include decongestants, expectorants (to make cough more productive), antihistamines, and antitussives (cough suppressants). The FDA is still reviewing data concerning the safety of these products in children aged 2-11 years. There have been serious side effects reported in this age group as well.

Making a Cough More Productive

A wet cough, which produces sputum, is an important way for your body to clear secretions from the airways. Wet coughs should not be suppressed, but may need to be made more productive. They may be treated with expectorant medications. These medications help thin bronchial secretions and make them looser and easier to cough up.

Guaifenesin is the best known expectorant and is found in a variety of over-the-counter cough and cold products (Robitussin, for example).

Moisture therapy also helps make secretions looser and easier to cough up. This therapy involves adding moisture to air with a steam vaporizer or cool-mist humidifier.

Suppressing a Cough

Medications are used to suppress a cough when it is:

  • Dry (producing little or no sputum)
  • Wet, but causes severe chest pain or interferes with sleep

Examples of cough suppressants include:

  • Local anesthetics in the form of lozenges, sprays, and pills
  • Dextromethorphan (eg, Robitussin Cough Suppressant, Vicks Cough Relief)
  • Narcotics, such as codeine

Honey has also been studied. This natural remedy appears to improve nighttime cough and sleep disruption in children. Note: Do not give honey to infants younger than 12 months because of the risk of infant botulism.

If you are diagnosed with a cough, follow your doctor's instructions.


Learn what Cough is
What It Is
Learn the basics of this condition. Find out what you're dealing with.
Cough Causes
What causes Cough? Learn what the medical community has uncovered.
Cough Risk Factors
Risk Factors
Are you at risk of getting Cough? Inside you'll find known risk factors for the condition.
Cough Diagnosis
How will your doctor diagnose you with this condition? Learn about the tests, process, and more.
Cough Symptoms
What are the Cough symptoms? Are you showing any? Learn more today.
Cough Complications
Can this condition lead to other health problems? Learn more about the known complications.

Take Action

Screening for Cough
Learn more about the specific tests or exams given by your doctor to screen for Cough.
Cough Medications
What medications offer relief or help with this condition? Are there side effects? Risks? Learn more.
Cough Prevention
How can you prevent Cough? Read what the medical community suggests for prevention methods.
Cough Treatment
Can this condition be treated? What Cough treatment options are available?
Cough Care
Learn more about the day to day care of this condition. Changes to your activity, diet, exercise, and more.
Cough Doctors
Find a Doctor
Do you need to contact a doctor about Cough? Select a location to find a specialist in your area.

Latest Articles

There are no articles are available for Cough.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO