What can I do to prevent or relieve the symptoms of chronic cough?

To prevent chronic cough:

  • Quit smoking, or don't start smoking, since this is the most common reason for chronic cough.
  • Avoid contact with anyone you know who may have bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • Eat fruit and foods that contain fiber. Research suggests that a combination of fiber and flavonoids found in fruit may prevent chronic cough.

To relieve the symptoms of chronic cough:

  • Drink plenty of water (at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day).
  • Gargle with warm saltwater to help remove any mucus.
  • Inhale steam.
  • Avoid inhaling dust, smoke or other pollutants as much as possible.
  • Use extra pillows at night to prop up your head and upper body.
  • Try cough lozenges.
  • Try over-the-counter cough medicines that contain guaifenesin and/or dextromethorphan.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/09/2016.

References

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is Cough? Accessed 3/11/2016.
  • Chung KF, Widdicombe JG. Causes and Treatment of Acute and Chronic Cough. In: Mason, ed. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine, 5th ed.; Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010: Chapter 29.
  • Dweik RA. Cough – Etiology. In: Carey, WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine 2010.2nd ed.; Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010: section 12.
  • Kelkar P, Weldon D. Approach to the Patient with Chronic Cough. In: Adkinson FM, et al. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 7th ed.; St. Louis: Mosby; 2008: Chapter 79.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy