Family Pharmacy

Respiratory system

Show what is good for cough

Family Pharmacy

Cough is a natural defence mechanism of the respiratory system to eliminate viruses, bacteria or irritating substances that are present in the airways (nose, throat, or lungs).

These external agents are detected by cells in the airways which, when irritated, stimulate the lungs to release and quickly expel them.

Types of Cough

Cough is classified on the one hand, as to its duration as:

  • acute - short duration
  • chronic - long lasting

On the other hand, cough can be characterised as:

  • productive - with phlegm
  • non-productive - dry

Tobacco smoke can cause coughing
Tobacco smoke can cause coughing


Cough is not a disease, but a warning symptom for some diseases of the respiratory system. The main causes are:

  • Infections
  • Allergies (e.g., dust and pollens)
  • Asthma, Rhinitis and Sinusitis
  • Inhalation of foreign bodies
  • Heart disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Pollution
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Medicines (e.g., IECAS)


  • Dry Cough: 
    • Permanent need to cough
    • Feeling of itching, irritation, and throat dryness
    • No secretions
  • Cough with phlegm:
    • Congested chest
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Crackling when breathing and / or coughing
    • With secretions (mucus and sputum)

Cough in Adult Treatment
Cough in Adult Treatment

Treatment / Care   

As cough is a defence mechanism, the important thing is to treat its cause. There are some measures that can be taken to mitigate it:

  • Hydrate and lubricate the airways - drink water and tea with honey and lemon
  • To reduce irritation, suck sage honey, ginger, or lemon candy, preferably without sugar
  • Doing inhalations with a nebuliser or aerosol device helps to soften secretions; in the case of productive cough, it facilitates expulsion, and, in the case of dry cough, it promotes the hydration of the mucosa
  • Sleeping with the head of the bed slightly raised, helps to relieve cough during the night
  • Use air humidifiers to keep the environment healthy and moist
  • Strengthen the immune system with rest, getting enough sleep, having a healthy diet, avoiding alcoholic beverages and if necessary, taking vitamin supplements
  • Avoid exposure to smoke

In addition to all these precautions, some preventive measures must be added, such as: 

  • cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough
  • wash your hands with soap and water to minimize the risk of spreading the particles released by the cough to other people, when the source of the cough is infectious

When these measures are not sufficient, it is necessary to use drugs such as:

  • expectorants and mucolytics - facilitate phlegm release
  • antitussives - suppress cough
  • antihistamines - for allergic coughs for example

Adult Cough - See a doctor
Adult Cough - See a doctor

When should I see a doctor?

  • Excessive mucus production
  • Yellow or greenish mucus
  • Phlegm with blood
  • Chest pain
  • High fever
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Persisting more than 1 week
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Kids

Coughing is a natural reflex, but it can seriously interfere with everyday life and can be a symptom of a disease.

Do not self-medicate!!! For cough relief, talk to your pharmacist.


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