Cough Relief: 6 Effective Options for Soothing Irritating Coughs (2023)


When it comes to coughs, they can be incredibly irritating and disruptive to your daily life. While coughs can be caused by various factors, respiratory infections such as colds and the flu can lead to persistent coughs that can last up to eight weeks. In this comprehensive article, we will explore six effective options that can help relieve the symptoms of a cough. From cough suppressants to expectorants, we will provide valuable insights and recommendations to help you find relief.

  1. Cough Suppressants: Suppressing the Reflex

Cough suppressants, available over-the-counter (OTC), provide relief by suppressing the reflex that causes a cough. However, it is important to note that limited research has been conducted to prove the effectiveness of these medications. In fact, most clinical trials have shown that OTC cough suppressants are no more effective than doing nothing at all. While some individuals may find temporary relief, it is essential to be aware of potential side effects associated with these medications.

  1. Expectorants: Thinning Mucus for Easier Drainage

Unlike cough suppressants, expectorants work by thinning the mucus, facilitating better drainage. These OTC medications have been proven in clinical studies to decrease secretions, which can help reduce coughing symptoms. If the cough is caused by a common cold, your healthcare provider may prescribe a decongestant to dry up sinus secretions that lead to post-nasal drip, resulting in a persistent cough.

  1. Prescription Cough Medications: Relieving Severe Coughs

For severe coughs that significantly impact daily activities and disrupt sleep, prescription-strength cough suppressants may be necessary. If OTC options are not effective, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications such as codeine, which is a narcotic. It is crucial to note that these drugs can have side effects and may be habit-forming, requiring careful consideration and monitoring.

  1. Other Options for Relief

In addition to medication-based approaches, there are several alternative methods to relieve cough symptoms. These include:

  • Cough Drops: Throat lozenges or cough drops containing menthol can temporarily alleviate coughs by acting as a mild anesthetic and reducing the need to cough.

  • Humidifier: Using a humidifier can help alleviate symptoms of upper respiratory illnesses by adding moisture to the air. This reduces irritation caused by dry air, which can further irritate sore throats and nasal passages.

  • A Spoonful of Honey: Honey has shown promise in relieving coughs, especially in children, and may be more effective than OTC cough medications. Its coating effect can help soothe the throat and reduce the frequency of coughing. However, it is important to note that honey should never be given to children under 12 months old due to the risk of botulism spores.

  1. Summary: Finding Relief for Coughs

Coughs are a common symptom of various illnesses, and while they can be irritating, they serve an essential purpose in eliminating excess mucus from the airways. Fortunately, many cough symptoms can be relieved through the use of OTC medications and home remedies. In cases where symptoms persist or change significantly, it is crucial to consult a healthcare provider to address the underlying cause of the cough and ensure appropriate treatment.

  1. Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you quickly quiet a cough? Keeping your throat and mucous membranes moist can help soothe a cough. Sipping water or tea, using cough drops or hard candy, and utilizing cough suppressant medicine can provide relief.

  • What medications stop a cough? Dextromethorphan, commonly found in cough formulas, sends messages to the brain to suppress the cough reflex.

  • Will guaifenesin quiet a cough? No, guaifenesin is an expectorant that helps thin out mucus, making it easier to cough up and expel. It relieves chest congestion but does not directly quiet a cough.

  • Do cough drops or throat lozenges work better for stopping a cough? Cough drops and throat lozenges are similar, containing ingredients like menthol that help alleviate coughs. Throat lozenges may also soothe a sore throat with the addition of analgesics like benzocaine.

  • What is the best drink for soothing a cough? A warm cup of tea with honey and lemon is often recommended for quieting a cough. Honey has shown potential in soothing coughs, but it is important to note its safety guidelines for children under 12 months old due to botulism spores.


In conclusion, coughs can be incredibly bothersome, but with the right approach, relief is within reach. By exploring options such as cough suppressants, expectorants, prescription medications, as well as alternative remedies like cough drops, humidifiers, and honey, individuals can find relief from cough symptoms. It is essential to consult a healthcare provider if symptoms persist or worsen, as addressing the underlying cause is crucial for effective treatment. Remember, with the right strategies, cough relief is attainable.

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