It's that dry, scratchy hacking that just doesn't quit, and all you want is relief. More than being simply irritating, a dry cough can make it difficult to get the rest you need or function well at home and work. It can even cause severe pain. Luckily, there are fairly simple steps that can help bring comfort and reduce your cough, even potentially preventing it from lingering longer.
1. Stay Well-Hydrated
Liquids are important when you have a dry cough, especially during cold, dry times of year. They keep your throat moist, which can help reduce the scratchy irritation. You may want to drink warm fluids like warm fluids like broth and herbal tea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center these may bring comfort when you have a cough or related symptoms like a sore throat.
Limit or avoid caffeinated drinks, such as black tea, coffee and energy drinks, which can make getting enough rest difficult. If you’re not interested in drinking tea or broth, consider drinking water, or eating fruits and vegetables to help stay hydrated.
2. Try a Lozenge
There’s a reason they are commonly known as cough drops. Lozenges work by adding moisture to your throat, which can help ease dryness, scratchiness and the urge to cough. If you also have a sore throat, consider drops containing menthol. This ingredient provides a bit of numbness, which may also minimize the urge to cough, according to Mark Yoder, MD, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center. Avoid cough drops right before falling asleep to keep from blocking your airway.
3. Take a Steamy Bath or Shower
Sudsing up can do more than cleanse your body. The steam created by a warm bath or shower can help ease coughing by adding moisture to the air. As you breathe it in, you’ll also moisten your throat which can help reduce throat pain or scratchiness. If you also have nasal congestion, the steam can help clear those pathways too by loosening mucus and making it easier to expel. Even if you don't plan to take a full shower, you can still benefit from the steam by sitting in the bathroom with hot water running and the door closed.
4. Avoid Irritants
Chill or dry air isn’t the only cause for your worsening cough. In fact, certain substances in the air can irritate your throat, worsening or even causing a dry cough. Cigarette smoke, for example, is one of the biggest known irritants, so try to avoid smoking or hanging around in smoky spaces. If you're a smoker yourself, consider ways to cut back or quit.
5. Take Cough Medicine
If your dry cough just won’t let up, consider using an over-the-counter (OTC) medication to help relieve your symptoms. Delsym® offers a variety of medications depending on what symptoms you are experiencing. For instance, if you want to keep chesty coughing at bay so you can sleep well, consider taking Delsym® Cough+ Cold Night Time. It includes three active ingredients – acetaminophen, diphenhydramine and phenylephrine – to help relieve pain and fever, suppress your cough and provide decongestant relief. If you are looking for lasting relief, try Delsym® Extended-Release Suspension cough relief for all day or all night relief. Keep in mind that doctors advise against giving cough and cold medications to young kids, so be sure to read the recommended dosage instructions on any medication before you consider giving it to your child.
6. Dig Deeper into the Cause
Minimizing your cough could be as simple checking in with your doctor. While dry coughs are common and usually no cause for alarm, long-lasting and severe symptoms could result from a more serious medical problem. If you can’t seem to nip your cough in the bud or manage your symptoms, seek medical guidance. Factors such as acid reflux, asthma and allergies can all cause flare-ups. Getting any needed treatment won't only help alleviate your cough, but enhance your overall health and wellbeing in the process.
Staying hydrated, taking appropriate OTC medication and other simple steps can help relieve dry cough symptoms.
- WebMD: Cough Relief: How to Lose a Bad Cough
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common Cold
- Everyday Health: 10 Tips for Day and Night Cough Relief
- Dr. Deborah MD: Solutions for Coughs and Bronchitis
- Delsym: Cough+ Cold Night Time
- Delsym: Delsym® Adult 12 Hour Cough Relief
- WebMD: What Counts as Water? Stay Hydrated and Healthy
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