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How to Stop Coughing: 13 Simple & Foolproof Tips

Updated in October 2023

Some tips to help stop coughing are to drink carrot syrup, drink plenty of water and rinse your nose with saline solution. These remedies help to moisturize the airways, reduce throat irritation and promote the elimination of secretions. 

In addition, some medications, such as acetylcysteine, loratadine and ambroxol, can also be prescribed by your doctor to relieve allergic, dry or phlegmy coughs.

If you are pregnant, check-out our article on ways to stop coughing that are safe during pregnancy

Ways to stop coughing

Some tips to help relieve a cough at home are:

1. Taking carrot syrup

Carrot syrup is a good, natural and homemade option to combat coughs caused by colds and flu. It has moisturizing and expectorant action, lubricating the throat and reducing irritation.

To prepare this syrup, simply grate 1 carrot and put it in a jar, cover with 2 tablespoons of sugar, the juice of ½ lemon and 1 teaspoon of honey, mixing everything together with a spoon. Cover the jar and leave the mixture to stand overnight. Take 1 tablespoon twice a day.

See other homemade cough syrups that can naturally reducing coughing.

2. Drinking 2 liters of water a day

Drinking 2 liters of water a day, at room temperature, is a good way to stop a cough. This hydrates the airways and facilitates the elimination of secretions, relieving irritation in the throat.

However, the amount of water recommended varies according to age, body weight and season. 

3. Drinking lemon juice with honey

Lemon juice with honey helps to stop coughing because it has antifungal and antibacterial properties that help to soothe and moisturize the throat. It can fight colds naturally and help to reduce the cough reflex.

To prepare this juice, squeeze the juice of one lemon, and one teaspoon of honey and 200 ml of filtered or boiled water in a glass. Mix all the ingredients well and drink 1 glass of this juice a day.

4. Inhaling steam with peppermint oil

Boiling water with peppermint essential oil helps to thin secretions, unclog the nose and stop coughing in cases of flu, sinusitis or respiratory allergies. You can also boil water with eucalyptus essential oil.

To prepare this inhalation, dilute 8 drops of peppermint essential oil in a basin with 1 liter of boiling water. Then place your head over the basin and cover both your head and the basin with a towel. Inhale the steam for 10 minutes. Repeat this 2-3 times a day.

5. Drinking eucalyptus tea

Eucalyptus tea helps to stop coughs because it contains tannins, flavonoids and aldehydes. These are bioactive compounds with antiseptic, antioxidant and antispasmodic action that strengthen the immune system, preventing and fighting infections of the respiratory system.

To make eucalyptus tea, add 1 tablespoon of chopped eucalyptus leaves to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover the cup, let it stand for 10 minutes and drink up to 3 cups of this tea a day. Check out other teas for coughs that you can prepare at home.

6. Taking a hot bath

Taking a warm or hot shower with the bathroom door open is a natural way to humidify the air in the room, reducing irritation in the throat and making it easier to eliminate phlegm.

To do this, leave the shower door open for a few minutes while you're showering, drying your body and putting on your clothes.

7. Inhaling lemongrass tea

Inhaling lemongrass tea helps to decongest and reduce irritation in the airways to relieve coughs.

This inhalation can be done by diluting 1 tablespoon of lemongrass leaves in a basin with 1 liter of boiling water. Place the basin on a table and place your head over the basin. Cover your head and the basin with a towel and breathe in the steam for 15 minutes. Perform this inhalation once a day.

8. Gargling with water and salt

Gargling with warm water and salt helps to stop coughing, as it has antibacterial properties that remove the harmful bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection of the throat.

To perform this gargle, add a tablespoon of salt to a glass of warm water and mix well with a spoon. Then gargle for as long as you can and spit out the water afterwards, repeating this procedure 3 times a day. Check out other gargles that can help to relieve coughs.

9. Irrigating the nose with saline solution

Nasal irrigation with saline solution helps to stop coughing because it eliminates excess secretions in the nose or sinuses. It helps to facilitate the elimination of secretions and relieve coughing in cases of sinusitis and rhinitis.

To perform a nasal irrigation, fill a syringe with 10 or 20 mL of sterile 0.9% saline solution. Then tilt your body forward over a sink and your head to the side. Then place the syringe at the entrance to one nostril and press down until the saline comes out of the other nostril. Check-out our step-by-step guide on how to perform a nasal irrigation at home. 

10. Taking cough medicine

Some medications that can be prescribed by a doctor to relieve a cough include levodropropizine, dropropizine and clobutinol, which relieve throat irritation and dry coughs.

Medicines such as ambroxol, guaifenesin and acetylcysteine can be recommended to relieve coughs with phlegm.

To combat coughs caused by allergies, the doctor may prescribe drugs such as loratadine, dexchlorpheniramine and dextromethorphan. Learn about the cough syrups that your doctor may prescribe. 

11. Using a humidifier

Using a room humidifier can help relieve a cough more quickly, especially when the air is very dry. A humidifier increases the moisture in the air, reducing inflammation or irritation in the throat.

In addition, using a room humidifier helps to keep the airways hydrated and open, making it easier to release phlegm and improve breathing.

12. Avoiding foods that cause reflux

One of the causes of coughing is gastroesophageal reflux, which occurs due to the backflow of stomach content into the mouth. This causes throat irritation, resulting in a dry cough, especially at night.

It is therefore important to avoid foods that can make reflux worse, such as caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, chocolate, citrus fruits, fried foods, fatty or spicy foods or tomato sauce. Read more about the GERD diet that can help to relieve coughing. 

13. Using an extra pillow to sleep

Using an extra pillow to sleep can especially help to relieve night coughs. When you lie down, phlegm can remain stuck and accumulate in your throat, making it harder to drain in a lying position.

Due to the accumulated phlegm, the cough reflex is activated in an attempt by the body to remove phlegm from the airways, making the cough worse at night.

Using an extra pillow to sleep can also help with gastroesophageal reflux, preventing stomach contents from returning to the mouth, which can cause throat irritation and night-time coughing. See what else can cause nocturnal coughs and how to relieve them.

When to see a doctor

You are advised to see an ENT specialist, a lung specialist or your family doctor if you experience coughing as well as other symptoms such as blood in the phlegm, high fever and greenish or yellowish secretions. 

Read more about what your phlegm color means and how to treat it. 

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