Cough Remedies: Effective & Fast Acting Cough Remedies

What you need to know before choosing a cough remedy…

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The first step in choosing a cough remedy is to identify what type of cough is being treated. Once the type of cough has been identified you will then be able to determine whether you need a cough suppressant, an expectorant, a combination of the two, or a topical treatment.

Suppressants, expectorants, and topical ointments are readily available to purchase as over the counter items; however, you may also opt to make your own home remedies for cough that are equally effective suppressants and expectorants.

Other effective cough remedies include treatments such as vaporizers and humidifiers to home cough remedy recipes like chicken soup, honey-lemon tea, and also drinking lots of water which acts as an expectorant.

The choice you make is important, as using the wrong type of cough remedy can delay recovery. For example, a chest cough serves the purpose of clearing your lungs; therefore, quieting a cough with a suppressant, instead of using an expectorant, could hinder the natural process of a productive cough which rids the respiratory tract of phlegm and clears the airways.

The content below will assist you in making an informed decision in choosing the most effective cough remedy for the particular cough condition you are dealing with.

Will your best choice be an over the counter cough syrup or over the counter cough medication in pill or tablet form? Perhaps the best choice for your needs would be a natural or homemade remedy for cough.

Another possibility is the use of a soothing topical application. Should you use a vaporizer or humidifier or steam from the shower? Having a cough drop on hand can also be a great quick fix to a sudden cough attack.

Types of Cough – What Kind Of Cough Is It?

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Coughing. It’s never a pleasant experience to have a cough, but coughing does play an important role in the recovery process especially when an infection is present in the respiratory tract.

Coughs are initiated and controlled by an area in the brain which generates the cough reflex and the urge to cough. The cough reflex is an important protective reflex which bounds into action when the presence of an irritant or foreign substance is detected.

One example of an irritant which triggers one of the most common cough problems is the presence of phlegm or mucus. A protective mucus layer is present in healthy individuals as a normal part of the process of how our respiratory passages remain clear.

When a virus or bacteria is present, a thicker and more sticky mucus forms, known as phlegm, which then triggers the cough reflex in order to loosen and expel the phlegm along with the infection.

Coughing is classified into two categories:

1) Productive Cough or Chesty Cough or Wet Cough – This type of cough rids the respiratory tract of viruses and bacteria by producing excess mucus (phlegm), causing the cough reflex to clear germs out of the respiratory tract, as described in the paragraph above.

An example of one of the most common types of wet cough is bronchitis.

2) Non-Productive Cough or Dry Cough – This type of cough does not expel phlegm from the respiratory tract and is therefore referred to as a dry cough. A dry cough is a nagging, tickling type of cough and can be very irritating.

Although a non-productive cough is a dry cough, one of its causes could surprisingly be as a result of stubborn phlegm (viscous phlegm) that is not loosened and expelled with the coughing process. This is also sometimes referred to as dry phlegm.

Non-productive dry coughs are most common with flu but can also be caused by allergies or other conditions or diseases.

Sound Bytes Of Types Of Cough

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Doctors in the above video discuss the diagnosis of different cough types and play sound bytes of dry cough, wet cough, croup, and whooping cough.

Choosing The Best Cough Remedy For You!

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When dealing with a cough, any type of cough, for any length of time, we all want fast and effective cough relief … ASAP!

In addition to getting much needed relief from coughing, when choosing a cough remedy it’s important to keep in mind that the ultimate objective should be to treat the underlying cause.

Basically it boils down to two important steps when you need to choose a cough remedy:

1) Identify what type of cough you have:

  • Productive Chesty Cough
  • Non-Productive Dry Cough

2) Choose Cough Treatment: Now that you have identified the type of cough you’re dealing with, you are now able to choose one of the following cough treatment options that would be the best “type” of cough remedy that will provide you with the quickest and most effective relief for the “type” of cough you are experiencing.

Cough Treatment Options

  1. Cough Expectorant
  2. Cough Suppressant
  3. A combination cough expectorant/suppressant – Some cough medicines have a combination formula that includes both an expectorant and a suppressant in one cough medicine. There are also many natural cough remedy items that naturally serve as both an expectorant and suppressant.
  4. A daytime expectorant and nighttime suppressant

Quick Reference Chart

Cough Suppressant vs Cough Expectorant

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The chart shown below provides a quick and easy reference to the most common recommendations provided by health care professionals as to whether you should use a cough suppressant or an expectorant for various types of cough.

There are a multitude of cough remedies from which to choose, ranging from over the counter cough syrups and medicines to an even greater selection of home remedies for cough.

We have provided information on what we believe to be the most popular and effective cough remedies in order to give our readers the best possible information available.

We want you to be able to find the information you’re looking for so you can make an informed decision in choosing a fast-acting and effective remedy for your cough.

For more in depth information on various types of cough remedies be sure to check out the following pages:

  • Home Remedies For Cough – Here you will find a an ample selection of natural and homemade cough remedies which are categorized into three groups identifying each cough remedy as an expectorant, suppressant, or a combination of the two. These categories make it easy to quickly find which cough remedies will be effective for a particular type of cough.
  • OTC Cough Medicine – Over the counter (OTC) cough medicines are used everyday to ease cough symptoms. OTC cough expectorants, suppressants, and combination products come in liquid or pill form, as well as in cough drops. This page includes helpful and important information that you need to know before using medicinal cough remedies. For example, while OTC cough remedies are safe for most individuals; young children, people who are on certain medications or have particular health conditions, as well as those who are pregnant or nursing, should NOT take OTC medicines without checking with their physician.
  • Cough Drops – Tips and information on cough drops, ranging from over the counter lozenges to natural herbal lozenges. Learn which cough drops are safe for children and during pregnancy. Even learn how you can make your own homemade cough drops from natural ingredients at home.
  • Humidifier vs Vaporizer – Here you will find answers about humidifiers and vaporizers. Is warm mist or cool mist best? Is steam from the shower or a pot of boiling water just as effective? Learn which is the best treatment for you.
  • Topical Cough Remedies – This page highlights cough remedies like menthol rubs, ointments, and poultices which are externally applied to the chest, throat, or back to temporarily relieve coughing.

For information on cough remedies for a specific cough condition:

If you’re interested in information on a specific type of cough be sure to check out the pages listed below. This list includes some of the most common cough conditions and links to valuable information which includes one or more of our favorite cough remedies for each type of cough.




When To Call The Doctor About Your Cough Or Cough Remedy…

Call the doctor before taking any type of cough remedy IF :

(this includes over the counter, natural, herbal, homeopathic, and homemade cough remedies)

  • You are pregnant or nursing
  • You are taking medication for another condition
  • You have high blood pressure or heart problems

Also call your doctor if your cough is accompanied by any of the following symptoms :

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • If your cough comes and goes
  • If your cough lasts longer than 2 to 3 weeks

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Resource Links

Medical News Today: News About Coughing & Cough Remedies

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Acute Cough Cough Medicines

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