How to Get Rid of a Deep Cough

Four Methods:Treating a Deep Cough at HomeKnowing When to Get Medical AttentionUsing Medical TreatmentsUsing Herbal Treatments

You've probably coughed enough in your life to know that coughs can be different. You might have a chesty wet cough where you cough up phlegm or mucus. These are known as productive coughs. Or, you might have a dry cough that doesn't produce anything (a non-productive cough). If you're coughing up phlegm, this is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection or has inflammation.[1][2] Either way, there are plenty of ways you can treat your cough so you can get the rest you need.

Method 1
Treating a Deep Cough at Home

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    Breathe in warm, humidified air. Keep the air humid by using a vaporizer or by taking hot, steamy shower, especially if the cough is dry. Sit close to the vaporizer or humidifier and breathe in deeply.[3] Humidifiers are especially useful at night, so you can also place the humidifier near your bed. This can help thin secretions, which will make it easier to cough them out.
    • Take care to breathe in slowly since deep breaths can cause you to start coughing.
    • You can also try a cool mist humidifier for warmer months. These are also safer for use with children.
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    Drink warm fluids. To keep your mucus thin and moving, you need to stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day as a minimum.[4] You should actually try to drink more when you have a cough. Warm fluids can help soothe your throat while keeping you hydrated.
    • Try drinking warm chicken or vegetable broths. If you get tired of drinking water, you can also drink juices or herbal teas.
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    Eat small, nutritious meals. Depending on what's causing your cough (like acid reflux disease), you may want to eat small amounts of food more frequently throughout the day.[5] The foods should be easy to digest, yet filling. The goal is to provide a constant supply of energy to your body so your immune system can do its job and heal your cough.
    • Be sure to include quality protein like fish and skinless poultry as well as complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables.
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    Get plenty of rest. Help your body recover from the exhaustion of deep coughing by resting as much as possible. Try to take time off from work or school. You'll give yourself a chance to recover faster and you won't be putting your co-workers or classmates at risk of catching something.
    • If your child has a deep cough, keep her home from school. She's more likely to get her classmates or teacher sick.

Method 2
Knowing When to Get Medical Attention

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    Listen for whooping cough. Whooping cough is characterized by fits of uncontrolled violent coughs which make it very hard to breathe. When you finally do feel like you can breathe, the breath often sounds like a "whoop." Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium and is more common now because of decreased immunization rates, effectiveness of newer vaccines, and new bacterial strains of the disease.
    • It's important to treat whooping cough early because it's highly contagious.
    • If you're unsure what whooping cough sounds like, you can easily search for a recording of the "whoop."[6] However, sometimes whopping cough is just a cough that lasts for a few weeks.
    • Talk to your doctor right away if you think that you or your child might have whooping cough.
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    Pay attention to your symptoms. If you or your child have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor for an appointment or advice:
    • Coughing up thick and/or greenish-yellow phlegm (which is a sign of infection)
    • Wheezing or a whistling sound at the beginning or end of the breath (sign of inefficient lung function)
    • Any odd sounding cough and difficulty breathing at the end of a cough
    • Fever of more than 100.4 for more than two to three days
    • Any shortness of breath or chest pain
    • Coughing up blood[7]
    • Having a wet cough for more than one to two weeks or a dry cough for more than three weeks
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    Consider the cause of your cough. Coughs are caused by a variety of conditions. You might have an upper-respiratory infection which can irritate your nose or sinuses, causing cough. This also makes it likely that increased mucus can drip down the back of your throat and irritate it, causing coughing. This is called post-nasal drip. If the infection gets into your lungs, it can cause pneumonia, which can be more serious. You might cough if you breathe in an allergy or asthma trigger like allergens or dust. Or, you might cough if you inhale a foreign object.[8][9]
    • Keep in mind that some medications, especially some blood pressure drugs, can cause cough.
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause you to cough when stomach acid flows back into and irritates your esophagus.
    • Chronic bronchitis is another main cause of coughing that is commonly caused by smoking. The network of tubes (bronchioles) are inflamed and irritated.
    • If you have a dry, deep and persistent cough, it may be caused by congestive heart failure or rarely, lung cancer.
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    Monitor your relief. If you try treating your cough at home or take prescribed medications like antibiotics or antifungal treatments, pay attention to how your cough progresses. You should notice gradual relief. If you don't notice any improvements within five to seven days or if the cough is getting worse, contact your doctor.
    • If you don't respond to treatment, you may be dealing with a more complicated health situation. It's important to get individualized medical care.

Method 3
Using Medical Treatments

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    Follow your doctor's treatment recommendation. Your doctor will determine what's causing your cough and might prescribe medication. For example, if your cough is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antifungals (if it's a fungal infection).
    • Be sure to completely follow your doctor's recommended dosing, completing the medication as directed even if you start to feel better before you've finished your course of antibiotics.
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    Suck on cough drops. Cough drops can be useful for adults and older children who have a cough. Try getting some cough drops that contain menthol to help soothe your throat and open up your nasal passages.
    • Do not give cough drops to young children.
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    Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Depending on the cause of your cough, your doctor might recommend that you take an OTC medication like antihistamines, pain relievers, or anti-asthma medications. Take care to read the medication's label for proper dosing and only take medications that specifically address your symptoms. For example, if your only symptom is a cough, you don't need a decongestant or antihistamine.
    • Avoid using any medication for more than seven days, unless your doctor has instructed you to do so.
    • Contact your child's doctor for medication recommendations. You may be able to give your child an over-the-counter medication, but it is best to consult your doctor first for specific recommendations.
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    Take an expectorant. Expectorants thin out the mucus and phlegm which lets you cough them up easier. Use an expectorant like Guaifenesin which is available as a liquid, tablet, or capsule and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Avoid taking the expectorant for more than a week.[10]
    • Avoid giving guaifenesin to children under 4 years old. More studies are needed to determine the risks of using guaifenesin while pregnant or nursing.[11]
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    Use a cough suppressant. Ask your doctor about taking a cough suppressant since coughing is a natural way for your body to remove irritants and mucus. You might want to take a cough suppressant medication like dextromethorphan if:
    • You're coughing so much that you can't sleep
    • You're cough keeps you from concentrating
    • Your whole body aches from coughing

Method 4
Using Herbal Treatments

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    Choose a natural expectorant. Expectorants are herbs that can increase and thin out secretions which makes it easier to cough up the phlegm. Some of these (like camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol) can also be used to suppress coughs. Easy to find herbal expectorants include:[12][13][14]
    • Eucalyptus[15]
    • Elecampane (Inula)
    • Slippery Elm
    • Fennel seed
    • Camphor[16]
    • Garlic
    • Hyssop
    • Lobelia
    • Mullein
    • Thyme
    • Spearmint and peppermint
    • Ginger
    • Cayenne pepper and black pepper
    • Mustard seed
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    Make an herbal expectorant tea. Steep one teaspoon of dried expectorant herb (or one tablespoon if fresh) in one cup of boiled water for five to 10 minutes. Sip four to six cups of the warm herbal tea throughout the day. If you dislike the taste, you can add honey and lemon. However, do not give honey to children under one year old.
    • Cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic, and mustard seed may be strong and irritate your throat so drink them slowly.
    • If you are giving these teas to a child, cut the amount of herb by ½ or steep it in two cups of water. You should also consider talking to your doctor before using herbal remedies in children.
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    Create a steam facial. Create an herbal steam using herbs or essential oils to bring the expectorant's antifungal, antibacterial, or antiseptic properties directly to your lungs. Use one drop of essential oil or one to two teaspoons of dried herb for every quart of water. Boil the mixture for one minute and remove it from heat. Use one of these herbs or essential oils:
    • Eucalyptus
    • Fennel seed
    • Camphor
    • Hyssop
    • Lobelia
    • Mullein
    • Thyme
    • Spearmint or peppermint (which contain menthol)
    • Ginger
    • Coltsfoot
    • Marshmallow
    • Slippery elm
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    Do a steam facial. Drape a large clean towel over the back of your head while you lean over the pot of steaming herbal water. Keep your face at least 12 inches away from the water so you don't burn yourself and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for five counts. Repeat this for 10 minutes or as long as the water is still steaming. Cough during the treatment and blow your nose when you're finished.
    • Reheat the water till it steams and do a facial every two hours or as often as you can.
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    Suppress your cough. Use natural suppressants like camphor, eucalyptus, and honey. Remember, do not give honey to children under one year old. Try taking one tablespoon of honey three times a day to soothe your throat. Or, add one to three drops of camphor, eucalyptus, or menthol into a steam facial, breathing in the fumes. You can also rub a topical ointment that contains camphor and menthol onto your chest and around your nose to suppress your cough.
    • In general, a cough is a normal way for your body to get rid of mucus and irritants, so you shouldn't always treat it. But, if you're coughing so much that you can't sleep or concentrate, or your body is sore, you can try a natural cough suppressant.


  • Quit smoking. Smoking will only irritate the lining of your throat which may already be sore from coughing. There are several online resources for help in quitting smoking and support.[17][18]

Article Info

Categories: Respiratory Health