Coughing is caused by irritation of the airways which, in turn, can be caused by many things. There are many non-prescription products available that relieve coughs. If necessary, cough symptoms can also be treated with prescription medication.
What are the symptoms? There are two types of cough: dry (non-productive or tickly) cough and productive (or chesty) cough. The latter produces phlegm. Coughing is typically provoked by:
- Viral infections, e.g. the flu or common cold;
- Bacterial infections, e.g. pneumonia (often a complication of the flu or cold);
- Allergies, e.g. pet allergy or pollen allergy;
- Smoking (chronic cough/smoker's lung).
Chronic coughing may cause symptoms such as throat pain, shortage of breath and fatigue. Coughing can also disturb sleep.
Treatments for coughing If coughing is caused by a viral infection, the symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter products such as lozenges or cough syrup. Make sure you buy a product that is actually meant for the right type of cough (dry or productive). Persistent tickly coughs can be treated with a strong antitussive (cough suppressant) such as codeine. If coughing is caused by asthma or an allergy, you can use medicine that is inhaled through the mouth (inhalers). If you have a bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually used to treat the infection and relieve the symptoms.