What Is the Fastest Way To Cure a Cough?

Reviewed on 1/22/2021

What is a cough?

There is no cure for a cough and most go away on their own. They can be treated with at home with over-the-counter medications such as cough syrups, drops and decongestants. Home remedies such as drinking lemon and honey, vaporizers, and chest rubs can also help.
There is no cure for a cough and most go away on their own. They can be treated with at home with over-the-counter medications such as cough syrups, drops and decongestants. Home remedies such as drinking lemon and honey, vaporizers, and chest rubs can also help.

A cough is a normal body function that helps protect the lungs from debris. It can be a symptom of many types of respiratory conditions, but often it is caused by common cold or flu viruses and allergies. Most coughs can be treated at home with simple cough remedies.

A cough is a spontaneous reflex. Your throat and airways have nerves that sense debris and irritants. When mucous, dust, chemicals, or germs enter your throat and airways, the nerves will sense them and you will automatically cough to get rid of them. This helps keep your lungs clear and healthy.

Symptoms of a cough

If you have a cough, you may experience:

If you have a virus or allergies, you may also experience other symptoms, including:

A cough caused by allergies or a virus may last up to three weeks. If your cough lasts longer, it may be considered a chronic cough and may require medical attention.

Causes of cough

A cough is a normal reflex to keep your lungs clear. You may start coughing if you inhale dust, chemicals, smoke, or air pollutants.

While occasional coughing can be normal, other, more serious conditions may cause coughing, including: 

Who can get a cough

Anyone can develop a cough when they are around secondhand smoke, dust, or other chemicals. This a healthy response to protect the lungs and keep them clear of fluid and irritating substances. People with allergies may also develop a cough when they encounter allergens.

Anyone can also contract a common cold or flu virus, which can produce a cough. People with asthma or lung disease may experience worse coughing from a cold or flu virus than people with healthy lungs. 

However, lung diseases are less common. Experts don’t know what causes all lung diseases, but some pollutants and chemicals like asbestos and radon may lead to disease like asthma, emphysema, or lung cancer. Some diseases like cystic fibrosis are genetic.

QUESTION

Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer

Tests for a cough

Coughs are common and can usually be treated at home with cough remedies. However, if your cough lasts longer than three weeks, you may need to visit your doctor

Your doctor may take your personal and medical history and examine your throat, ears, sinuses, take your temperature, and listen to heart and lungs. They may ask you how long you’ve had the cough and about your symptoms. 

Depending on your symptoms, they may perform more tests, including:

  • Throat swab
  • Chest or sinus X Ray
  • Sputum culture, if you are coughing up mucus
  • Lung function test

Treatment for a cough

There is no cure for a cough, but it can be treated. Most coughs go away on their own and can be managed with home cough remedies. These treatments may include:

Medications

To manage your cough at home, your can use over-the-counter medications from your pharmacy, including:

  • Cough medicines 
  • Decongestants 
  • Antihistamines 
  • Cough drops or lozenges

Do not give cough medicines or cough drops to children under age four. Some people should not take cough medicines and decongestants. Make sure to speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Your doctor may prescribe some medications, including:

Home care and alternative cough remedies

If you are sick with a cold or flu virus, it is important to rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Fluids may also help thin the mucus.

You may also be able to use other home cough remedies, including:

Do not give honey to children under age one. Do not use peppermint or eucalyptus oil on or near the face of children under age six.

If you are not sick or you have allergies, you may need to make lifestyle adjustments like quitting smoking or avoiding allergens and secondhand smoke.

Complications of a cough

Complications of a cough may include:

  • A high-pitched sound when inhaling
  • A sudden, violent cough
  • A cough that lasts longer than three weeks
  • Chest pain
  • High fever
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Difficulty breathing

If you develop these symptoms, you should seek medical attention. 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

References
American Lung Association: "Learn About Cough."

St. Luke's Hospital: "Cough."

Office on Women's Health: "Lung disease."

American Lung Association: "Diagnosis and Treating Cough."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Chest Cold (Acute Bronchitis).

Tisserand, R. Young, R. Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Elsevier, 2014.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors