How To Handle Cough?

by Swiert Lorenzo, MD, Internal Medicine


Discover healthy routines and exercises to keep your body at best condition during pregnancy.

Table of Contents

Cough is an automatic response of the body when mucus, germs or dust irritates the throat and airways. An irritant stimulates the nerves that sends a message to your brain. The brain then tells muscles in your chest and abdomen to push air out your lungs to force out the irritant. It is the most common irritating respiratory symptom encountered by any person suffering from respiratory disease.

What Are The Things That Make You Cough?

There are many things that can make you cough. Some of them include:

Irritants or Allergens

Smoke, strong smells (like cleaners and perfumes), mold, dust, pollen, pet dander, mucus, certain medications like antihypertensive medications example ace inhibitors.

Medical Conditions That Cause Acute or Subacute Cough 

Colds, flu, acute bronchitis or bronchiolitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, whooping cough (also known as pertussis), asthma, allergies, acute second or third hand smoke exposure.

Medical Conditions That Cause Chronic Cough 

Chronic bronchitis, asthma, allergies, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), throat disorders including vocal cord disorders, postnasal drip, heart failure and other cardiac conditions.

Patients usually presents with runny nose or stuffy nose, postnasal drip, throat irritation, hoarseness, wheezing or shortness of breathing, sour taste in the mouth, chest/back pain, sputum/phlegm production sometimes blood tinged.

What are the things to do to ease coughing?

Keep Hydrated

Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Liquid helps thin the mucus in your throat, a warm liquids, such as broth, tea, or lemon juice, are soothing.

Take Cough Drops

Take cough drops or lozenges which may ease a dry cough (one doesn’t produce phlegm/mucus) and soothe an irritated throat.

Have A Spoonful of Honey

One teaspoon of honey may help loosen a cough.

Use A Humidifier

Use a cool mist humidifier or a steamy shower to moisturize the air.

Do Other Natural Remedies

Other natural remedies that include: elevating the head when you’re sleeping and gargling warm salt water to remove mucus and soothe your throat

Avoid Tobacco/Cigarette Smoking 

Take Cough Suppressant Medications 

Antibiotics If Bacterial In Nature 

Diet Changes or H2 Blocker/PPI If With GERD 

How can cough be prevented?

You can prevent some kinds of cough by avoiding irritants that you know can cause you to cough. You can also prevent coughs caused by infection by: getting vaccinated for flu, COVID 19 and pneumonia; avoid people with serious illness; avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with your hands; washing your hands with soap and water and/or using hand sanitizers.

When to call a doctor?

In general, you may call your health care provider if you have a cough that will not go away and these symptoms: wheezing (noise when you breath out); fever especially more than 40 degrees Celsius that lasts more than a day or two; chills; phlegm (also called sputum) especially that is green, yellow, or bloody.

Go to the emergency room if you have a cough and feel like choking, can’t breathe well, see a lot of blood when you cough or have severe chest pain.

Always contact your family doctor (family medicine/internal medicine) if you have a cough that has not cleared up or improved in 2 weeks. Your family doctor may refer you to a specialist (pulmonologist) if it turns out to be a more serious problem. Get immediate medical attention if you develop additional symptoms (fever, chest pain, difficulty of breathing or coughing up blood).