If you have a cough and you'll be in a meeting or some other quiet place, rest assured there are quick solutions. Here's how to stop coughing attacks.
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.
How to stop a coughing fit in public instantly
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 happen to have! You would be surprised how effective this is. Unlike cough medicines, a mint is effective immediately, especially for a dry cough. There's zero wait time for the mint to kick in. If you need to stop a tickly cough instantly, this is your solution.
If you happen to have a cough drop on hand, then 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 the effect of one cough drop generally lasts much longer than one mint.
Chewing on mint flavors of gum are best if you need to get rid of a cough fast, but if all you have is Juicyfruit, it'll still help. Chewing gum is surprisingly helpful if you need to get rid of a lingering cough.
If you're traveling, toothpaste may be the only item you have on hand! I once had the worst coughing attack of my life in a hotel room with nothing minty on hand except my toothpaste. I got a small amount, rubbed it around my teeth and then rinsed it out. It totally worked!
If you have none of the above available, try this breathing exercise
Breath in as deeply as you can (yes it's difficult with a cough, but do your best), 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. Repeat as needed.
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. You can use this to get rid of a cough in 5 minutes - it's not as instant as the other solutions but it's better than nothing.
Medium-term and night time solutions to stop coughing
It's hard enough having a cough during the daytime, but having it continue when you're trying to sleep is horrible. Here are some solutions for the medium term and for night time to ensure you can get more sleep:
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.
Add an extra pillow at night
Sleeping propped up higher tends to reduce night-time coughing.
If your cough continues or you have additional symptoms
All of the remedies above are for getting rid of a dry or tickly cough. Don't try to suppress a wet cough.
Also, if in addition to any type of 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. Likewise if you literally have non stop coughing even if it's for a day or two. In any of these situations, your cough could be caused by a condition that requires treatment by a medical professional and/or by prescription medicine. Don't delay if you have any of these symptoms.
Are you struggling to stay focused at work with your cough? If so, take a look at this playlist of instrumental music for concentration and productivity.