How Do I Stop a COVID-19 Cough? 9 Home Remedies

Medically Reviewed on 2/17/2022
How Do I Stop a COVID-19 Cough
While a COVID-19 cough can be persistent and frustrating, you can alleviate symptoms with a few home remedies

While a COVID-19 cough can be persistent and frustrating, you can alleviate symptoms with a few home remedies.

Cough is a COVID-19 symptom that can linger for weeks even after the infection has cleared up. While recovering from a virus, you may experience a persistent dry cough, although others have reported experiencing a wet or productive cough with a lot of mucus. Here are a few things that you can try at home to speed up recovery.

9 home remedies for a COVID-19 cough

  1. Inhale steam. Inhaling steam 2-3 times a day can help loosen trapped mucus and reduce the frequency of coughing.
  2. Take over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants. Codeine-containing cough syrups can help you sleep when taken before bed. Avoid relying on these too much since they can be addictive.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Give your immune system plenty of time to recover by getting adequate rest, and aim to sleep more than 7-9 hours a night.
  4. Elevate your head and chest. Place a wedge under your pillow, as sleeping with your head and chest in an elevated position prevents the mucus from obstructing your airways and thus can help prevent you from coughing.
  5. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is one of the important things to do while recovering from any virus, including COVID-19.
  6. Have tea with honey. Drinking warm ginger tea with honey can help relieve sore throat coughing.
  7. Drink turmeric lattes. Warm milk with turmeric can help soothe the throat and works as an excellent expectorant.
  8. Suck on lozenges. If you do not want to use OTC cough syrups, you can try sucking on lozenges to lubricate your throat.
  9. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing:
    1. Sit up straight, with one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest.
    2. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nostrils and feel your stomach expand with each breath.
    3. Exhale slowly out through your mouth.
    4. Repeat 5-6 times or more each minute for 15-20 minutes.

If your cough does not subside even with home remedies, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If an underlying medical condition is hindering your body’s ability to clear the cough, your doctor may put you on stronger medications, such as antiviral pills or monoclonal antibody infusions.

What causes you to cough?

Coughing is a natural reflex that helps your body clear mucus and dust from your throat, which can cause inflammation in your respiratory tract.

One theory suggests that persistent cough after COVID-19 is due to the impact of the coronavirus on the vagus nerve, which controls the cough reflex. Interactions between the virus and the airway vagus nerve, in addition to inflammation of the nervous system caused by the virus, are the primary factors that initiate COVID-19 cough. Another assumption is that a post-infection cough is your body’s attempt to clear excess secretions in the recovery stage.

If your cough lasts longer than 8 weeks, it may be due to causes other than COVID-19, such as:

Treating the above conditions may help clear your cough.

How can you tell the difference between COVID-19 cough and other coughs?

There is nothing unique about COVID-19 cough that can help distinguish it from cough caused by other illnesses, such as viral or bacterial pneumonia

However, COVID-19 cough in hospital cases seems to be painful and dry, accompanied by lower blood oxygen levels and difficulty breathing without coughing.

Medically Reviewed on 2/17/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Song WJ, Hui CKM, Hull JH, et al. Confronting COVID-19-associated cough and the post-COVID syndrome: role of viral neurotropism, neuroinflammation, and neuroimmune responses. Lancet Respir Med. 2021;9(5):533-544.

Hamzelou J. Can breathing exercises help protect you from covid-19?. New Sci. 2020;246(3279):10-11.