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Got a Cough? Understand Types of Cough & Medicine Options

Cough-medicine

BY DR.KHOOBSURAT NAJMA

A cough is a natural reflex that protects your lungs. Coughing helps clear your airways of lung irritants, such as smoke and mucus (a slimy substance). But many coughs are triggered by viral infections such as colds and flu. While most of the time the cough settles down on its own, you may sometimes need a cough medication.

All cough is not same and medication is given based on the type of cough.

Types of Cough

Cough is generally of two types:

 – Productive cough (that produces mucous and secretions) and

 – Nonproductive (dry) cough

More : 7 Effective Natural Remedies to relieve Winter Cough

For Productive Cough

A productive cough results from the presence of mucus or other fluid within the upper or lower respiratory tract. The medicines that works the best for this type of cough are :

 1 . Expectorants

What are Cough Expectorants?

Expectorants are drugs that enhance the expulsion of mucus by air passages of the lungs. This makes it is easier to cough up the phlegm or sputum. They work by thinning the mucous, making it easier to cough it out.

Why do you need these?

Expectorants usually work best for a productive cough as they help in expelling the mucous and other secretions in the respiratory tract.One such expectorant is guaifenesin. Guaifenesin works best if you take it with plenty of water, because the water will work with the guaifenesin to thin the mucous.

How are they consumed?

They are usually consumed in the form of a cough syrup as advised by the doctor.

2 . Bronchodialators

What are bronchodialators?

Bronchodilators are medicines that make breathing easier by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening the airways (bronchi).

Why do you need these?

Bronchodilators help to relieve symptoms of congestion, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, by opening up the air passages in the lungs so that air can flow into the lungs more freely.

How are they consumed?

They are either taken as a syrup or using an inhaler as advised by the doctor.

For Dry Cough

A dry cough is a type of cough which does not produce any mucus or phlegm. The medicines that work best for dry cough are :

1 . Cough Suppressants

What are Cough Suppressants?

Cough suppressants are medicines that relieve cough by blocking the cough reflex.

Why do you need these?

Suppressants are usually taken for the dry cough or the non-productive cough. The most common cough suppressant in over-the-counter formulations is dextromethorphan.

How are they consumed?

They are usually consumed in the form of a cough syrup as advised by the doctor

2 . Throat Lozenges

What are lozenges?

Lozenges are small, typically medicated tablets intended to be dissolved slowly in the mouth to suppress the cough. Lozenges may contain benzocaine, an anaesthetic, eucalyptus oil, menthol, suppressants, peppermint oil, honey or other such soothing agent.

Why do you need these?

They are taken to temporarily stop coughs and lubricate and soothe irritated tissues of the throat.

How are they consumed?

They are taken in the form of oral tablets that dissolve slowly in the mouth.

If there are additional symptoms with the cough, like an allergic component or pain on coughing, your doctor may prescribe,

Antiallergic medication (Antihistamines)

Pain Medication (Analgesics)

Always, remember :

– Any cough that lasts more than 3 weeks, is associated with fever or other unusual symptoms needs proper evaluation by a registered medical practitioner

– It is best to avoid Codeine containing cough preparations as they can be habit forming in the long run

– Avoid anti-allergy medicines in children and elderly as they can cause drowsiness

– Many over the counter (OTC) syrups contain a combination of multiple drugs like suppressants, expectorants, analgesics. They should be avoided as they may contain drugs which you may not even need

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