What Are the Different Types of Cough Remedies?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2020
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When suffering from an annoying cough, there are several types of cough remedies that may offer some relief. Some of the most popular remedies are over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, like cough syrups. For more persistent or serious coughs, a prescription cough remedy may be necessary. Some individuals may also prefer home cough remedies.

Cough remedies usually bring to mind over-the-counter medicines, which are often combined with cold medicine. Cough syrups are probably the most common cough remedy. These can be purchased in large chain stores and pharmacies. Depending on the underlying cause of a cough, one of a couple types of cough syrups may be appropriate.

Cough suppressants are one type of cough medicine. A common active ingredient in these types of cough remedies is dextromethorphan, which works by suppressing the body's natural cough reflex. This is best for a dry cough, or a cough that does not produce mucus or phlegm, since it stops a person from coughing. If a person who has a wet cough takes this, it could result in a build up of mucus in the lungs.

The best type of over-the-counter cough remedies for people with wet coughs, or coughs that produce mucus or phlegm, are expectorants. Often, the active ingredient in these types of cough medicines is guaifenesin. This works by making the mucus in the lungs thinner, making it easier to cough up, or expel, from the lungs.


Cough drops and lozenges are other forms of OTC cough remedies. These are similar to hard candy, but many times they will contain natural ingredients, like menthol, which help soothe an irritated throat. These are best for dry coughs, since they help lubricate the throat to prevent irritation.

A very severe cough or chronic cough may need something stronger than an OTC cough medicine. In this case, a prescription medication is usually necessary. Prescription cough remedies often contain the same ingredients as OTC medicines, but in much stronger doses.

Day and night cough medicines are also available. Daytime cough medicines will usually not make a person drowsy. Nighttime medicines, on the other hand, may contain a narcotic, which can help a person with a cough fall asleep easier.

For those who prefer natural cough remedies, there are several. Mixing either lemon or vinegar with honey, for example, is one of the most popular home remedies for a cough. Adding lemon or honey to tea is another popular way to cure a cough.



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