How to Reduce Coughing

Updated April 17, 2017

Common colds, respiratory disorders, asthma, sinus congestion and tobacco use are all triggers that can cause a cough. Coughing is one way the body protects the respiratory system and clears out irritants and secretions. Coughs are categorised as either dry or productive coughs, depending upon whether the cough produces sputum. The intensity of coughing fits varies; some are only a minor nuisance, while others can interfere with breathing. A plethora of options exist for treating coughs once you or your doctor identify the underlying cause.

Purchase and use appropriate over-the-counter or prescription medication to treat your cough. Different medications are available for common colds or respiratory disorders. A pharmacist can help you choose a medication if you decide not to see a doctor. You may also want to purchase cough drops to help soothe the throat and avoid the sensation that prompts coughing.

Drink eight to 10 glasses of water per day to remain properly hydrated. Proper hydration loosens mucus and eases the severity of the cough. Alternatively, you can opt to drink herbal teas to release mucus and moisten the throat.

Place a towel over your head like a tent and inhale steam from a vaporiser or hot shower. The steam weakens the build-up of mucus and phlegm in the throat and lungs. Add a couple drops of eucalyptus to the water to further thin the phlegm.

Gargle with warm salt water to loosen any phlegm that is accumulating in the throat, and use a menthol rub on your chest to help open air passages.

Sleep with your head elevated. Keeping your head raised slightly reduces drainage that can worsen a cough. Include plenty of time to rest and recover from the cause of your cough. Coughing uses a lot of energy, so allow yourself time to recuperate.


Wash your hands frequently and minimise public outings to avoid spreading germs.


Avoid foods that can increase mucus production. Such foods include milk, butter, cheese, meat and deep fried foods. Also limit intake of cold foods and beverages such as smoothies and ice cream. Immediately seek medical help if your coughing becomes so severe it limits breathing ability.

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About the Author

Based in Phoenix, Kimberly Dedes began writing professionally in 2000. She worked in the breaking news and sports departments of "The Arizona Republic," contributing to print and online publications. She was also associate editor of "The Moon Valley Tattler," a local newspaper. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.