When you get a cough, what treatment or remedies help soothe your symptoms?
Share your story with others:
MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.
A cough is a common symptom of viral respiratory
infections and allergies. A cough can also be caused by
other conditions, some of them serious. For example, a
cough can be a symptom of asthma, acid reflux into the
esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease or
GERD), sinusitis, postnasal drip, bronchitis,
cigarette smoking, pneumonia, tuberculosis, hypersensitivity pneumonia (inflammation of
the lung from exposure to certain environmental chemicals),
and even lung cancer. Therefore, a persistent
cough or a cough that is associated with chest pain, fever, weight loss, or
blood-tinged or discolored sputum should be evaluated by a doctor.
There are three types of cough medications available OTC
for the temporary relief of cough due to a cold. They are
oral cough suppressants, oral expectorants, and topical
(externally applied) medicines.
Oral cough suppressants
Codeine and hydrocodone are narcotic oral cough
suppressants that require a doctor's prescription.
Dextromethorphan is an oral cough suppressant that is
available OTC. Dextromethorphan is chemically related to
codeine and acts on the brain to suppress cough, but it does
not have the pain-relieving and addictive properties of
codeine. Diphenhydramine is another non-narcotic medication
that acts on the brain to suppress cough. It is also an
Dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine can be used to relieve
a dry, hacking cough. They are not generally used to suppress a productive
cough (when sputum is coughed up). Suppressing a productive cough impairs the clearing of secretions and
the airways, which is generally undesirable. However,
cough suppressants are sometimes used to suppress even
productive coughs if they are especially bothersome and
prevent restful sleep.
Guaifenesin is an oral expectorant
that is believed to increase the leaking of fluid out of the lung tissue and
into the airways. This action thins (liquefies) the thick
mucous in the airways and facilitates the clearing of the
mucous by coughing. Clearing of mucous from the airways
menthol are topical cough medications. Camphor and menthol ointments are rubbed
on the throat and the chest as a thick layer. The anesthetic action of their
vapors is believed to relieve cough. They are also
available as products for steam inhalation. Menthol is also available as
lozenges and compressed tablets.
Examples of products in the cough category include the following:
Cough suppressants: Benylin Adult Cough Formula,
Buckley's Mixture, Diabe-Tuss DM, and St Joseph Cough
Suppressant for Children and Delsym (effective for 12 hours)
Cough suppressant plus an expectorant and other cold/flu/allergy ingredients:
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold and Cough, Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold and Flu, Comtrex Deep
Chest Cold & Congestion Relief, Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold
Tablets, Dimetapp Cold and Cough Liqui-Gels Maximum
Strength, PediaCare Cough-Cold Liquid and Chewable Tablets,
Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough and Cold, TheraFlu Flu Cold and Cough
Medicine, and Triaminic AM Cough and Decongestant formula
Since many of these combinations also contain an
antihistamine, a decongestant, and an analgesic in addition
to the cough suppressant and expectorant, they also provide
relief of nasal congestion, sneezing, fever, and aches.
In October 2000, an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) recommended that phenylpropanolamine (PPA), an ingredient contained in many OTC and prescription cold medications as well as weight-loss products, be classified as unsafe because of reports of stroke associated with the this ingredient. Many companies voluntarily chose to reformulate their products to exclude phenylpropanolamine. The FDA
has been taking steps to remove phenylpropanolamine from all drug products and has requested that all drug companies discontinue marketing products containing this ingredient.