If you're coughing a lot, here are some tips for how to make it stop, whether you're looking for a solution for right now, or for when you're going to sleep.
Disclosure: This article is not intended to replace medical advice; see your physician to determine the cause and treatment of your cough. This article only helps you handle the symptoms of the cough; not the underlying cause.
This is for if you're in a meeting or about to go to a meeting. You don't have time to figure out what's going on with the cough - you just need to make it stop. Here are some great options:
- Suck on a mint. Any type of mint candy is fine. Tic-Tacs, Mentos... anything! You would be surprised how effective this is. Unlike cough medicines, a mint is effective immediately, especially for a tickly cough. There's zero wait time for the mint to kick in.
- Cough drop. If you happen to have a cough drop on hand, then of course use that. Its main effectiveness comes from how long-lasting it is. So it's not necessarily going to work better than sucking on mints for the same amount of time, it's that one cough drop generally lasts much longer than one mint.
- Chewing gum. Mint flavors are best, but if all you have is Juicyfruit, it'll help at least some.
- If you have none of the above available, try this breathing exercise: Breath in as deeply as you can, hold your breath for just a few seconds, exhale slowly. Repeat once or twice, then resume breathing normally. All inward breaths for this exercise should be done through the nose if possible, as it warms the air that comes into your lungs. If you have a blocked nose, then obviously you'll just have to breathe through your mouth. This exercise can help ease uncontrollable coughing (for example if you feel a cough coming on during a meeting). It's not as effective as any of the other solutions, but it's better than nothing.
Medium-term and night time solutions
It's hard enough having a cough during the daytime, but having it continue on when you're trying to sleep is... horrible. Here are some solutions for the medium term and for night time:
- Cough mixture. An over-the-counter cough medicine is an option for helping you get through the night, or through a chunk of time during the day. Be careful to understand the correct dosage and how many hours you should allow between doses. Many of these cough mixtures are recommended for adults only, not children. This solution can take a little time before it works. This is not something you want to be taking for multiple days in a row. If you have a persistent cough that has been going on for more than 2 weeks, it's time to see a doctor instead of taking more cough mixture.
- Hot non-caffeinated drink. A herbal tea is a great option here. Otherwise, a drink of warm lemon with some honey in it is ideal. Breathing in some of the steam as you drink can help a lot.
- At night-time, add an extra pillow. Sleeping propped up higher tends to reduce night-time coughing.
Longer term solution
If in addition to your cough you have a fever, or you're coughing up mucus or blood, or you have chest pain or pain when breathing in or out, or you've had the cough for more than two weeks, then it's definitely time to see a doctor. Your cough could be caused by a condition that requires treatment by a medical professional and/or by prescription medicine.