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How can I Suppress a Cough?

By Jacob Queen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several different methods used to suppress a cough, but doctors don’t generally recommend any of them very often. As a general rule, they would prefer patients to allow their coughing to continue because it is helpful in clearing the lungs. According to doctors, the very best way to suppress coughing is to get rid of the illness causing the problem, which may require more coughing in the short term. In order to increase the productivity of their coughs so that they can hasten their recovery, some people use expectorant medicines and take in large amounts of fluid. To make coughing less uncomfortable during the day, doctors recommend the use of lozenges—in cases where coughs are disrupting the ability to rest, doctors allow for the use of over-the-counter or prescription cough suppressant medicines.

Lozenges generally work by soothing the air passage, which can sometimes make a cough less psychologically troublesome and may decrease the amount of coughing to a small extent. These come in many different flavors with a variety of ingredients, but doctors say there really isn’t that much difference between brands. These lozenges are considered the best way to deal with daytime coughing because they don’t necessarily hinder the body’s ability to heal itself.

Cough expectorants have the effect of thinning out the mucus produced in different parts of the body. In the short term, this can actually make a person cough more, but in the long term, it can lead to quicker healing and a general decrease in symptoms. If a person looks at it from this perspective, an expectorant could be seen as a way to suppress a cough. The general idea behind expectorants is that coughing is a cleansing mechanism, so the best treatment may be to help it along instead of going against the grain.

Cough suppressant medications come in several different varieties, but they all generally work in the same way. They are designed to inhibit a person’s coughing reflex. They aren’t always entirely successful in doing that, but they usually work to a certain extent. When people use these, doctors generally see them as a temporary fix to deal with discomfort, and they don’t suggest that patients should use them for a long time. As a general rule, prescription cough suppressants are known to be significantly more effective than most over-the-counter options.

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Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Feb 04, 2013

@Perdido – I know it sounds painful, but you really do need to use a cough expectorant during the day instead of a suppressant. You need something to loosen up that phlegm so that you can get rid of as much of it as possible and get on the road to recovery.

You can take a cough suppressant at night, but the only kind that seem to work are the kind you can only get by prescription. Go to your doctor and see if you can get some codeine cough syrup. This will slow down the urge to cough and knock you out for a few hours.

You're right about over-the-counter cough syrup doing next to nothing. It's probably a good thing that it doesn't suppress coughs very well, because too many people are trying to suppress them when they need to be encouraging them!

By Perdido — On Feb 04, 2013

Is there any way to suppress a bronchitis cough? I've tried throat lozenges and over-the-counter cough suppressants, but the cough is just too powerful for them.

I've been losing a lot of sleep because of the cough. I really need a way to slow it down, even if only for long enough to get a little rest!

By shell4life — On Feb 03, 2013

@Oceana – My favorite cough remedy is drinking hot tea with honey and lemon. You can use just about any kind of tea, but I like lemon echinacea, because it's supposed to soothe the throat.

Since I usually have an irritated throat when I do a lot of coughing, this is ideal for me. Other people like drinking green tea to suppress a cough, because it has so many other benefits.

Whatever tea you use, it is helpful to sweeten it with honey. It can coat your throat and help soothe your cough.

By Oceana — On Feb 02, 2013

I'm looking for some cough home remedies. I don't like using medication when I can use something natural instead. I have a dry, hacking cough that just won't quit, and I need some advice on how to get rid of it.

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