Coughs are a frequent cause for individuals to see their primary healthcare physician. Because the majority of coughs are caused by ordinary colds or environmental causes, OTC strongest cough suppressant medicines and at-home treatments typically resolve the issue. However, it is critical to contact your primary care physician for medical guidance — and perhaps prescription cough medication — if your cough is associated with a fever or has lasted for about three weeks.
Causes of a Cough
Though an occasional cough is acceptable, a persistent cough may indicate an underlying medical problem and might need the strongest cough suppressant. Coughs are a protective response that attempts to cleanse the airways of excess fluids and foreign substances. However, chronic coughing may have a major effect on your quality of life.
Below are the main reasons for cough:
- Common cold: It is caused by a virus that infects the throat and nose. It is typically innocuous, even if it may not feel that way. The average person recovers from a typical cold within seven to ten days.
- Viral upper respiratory tract infection: It is a different term for a common cold. It is most often acquired when a virus enters your body through the nose or mouth. It is most often spread by coughing, sneezing, or touching, given the symptoms.
- Flu: Influenza is a contagious viral illness that mostly affects the respiratory system. Although influenza is often referred to as the flu, it is not the same virus as the “stomach flu,” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. While the yearly influenza vaccination is not 100 percent effective, it is still the greatest way to protect yourself against the flu.
- Bronchitis: It is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are the primary passageways through which air is transported to and from the lungs. Bronchitis patients often cough up thick mucus that may be colored. Bronchitis may be either chronic or acute. It is often caused because of a virus—usually, the same viruses that are responsible for the common cold or flu—but it may also be caused by bacteria in rare instances.
Types of cough medicine
Numerous medicines are available to treat cold and cough symptoms, but only a handful of them are effective at alleviating symptoms fast. The following are the primary categories:
- Cough suppressants (also known as antitussives) inhibit the cough reflex, reducing the likelihood of coughing. The most often used active component in the strongest cough suppressant is dextromethorphan (DM). Cough suppressants should be avoided if the cough is due to chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, or smoking. Additionally, decongestants and antihistamines may dry up the throat, making the mucus harder to move and thicker, resulting in a more intense cough.
- Expectorants release or thin the mucus in the chest, allowing it to be coughed out more easily. Guaifenesin is a well-known example. Consuming more fluids may also be beneficial.
- Combination medicines: They contain an active component mixture of cough suppressants, expectorants, and other substances. They may contain decongestants, painkillers, and antihistamines to address several symptoms simultaneously. To treat a cough caused by a common cold, a cold medication that includes both a decongestant and an antihistamine is a suitable option, since an antihistamine alone may be useless.
Some of the best OTC Medicines for Cough
The majority of common colds may be treated without consulting a healthcare professional; there are many over-the-counter cough medications available without a prescription at your local pharmacy. Several of the most popular over-the-counter (OTC) cough remedies include the following:
- Pseudoephedrine: An over-the-counter medication used to treat nasal congestion. Sudafed is the most common brand. Sudafed should be used with caution in individuals with high blood pressure and other cardiac issues, since it may induce a rise in blood pressure. Hyperactivity, jitteriness, and irritability, are all possible side effects. Nota bene: A few states need a prescription for this, and each state stores it behind the drugstore counter. To make a purchase, you must provide identification.
- Guaifenesin: Often referred to as Mucinex, guaifenesin is the only over-the-counter expectorant available to aid in the relief of cold symptoms. It works by relieving congestion in the chest and is often used in conjunction with pseudoephedrine to treat a variety of symptoms. Guaifenesin is believed to thin mucus and make it easier to cough up mucus or phlegm, but reports differ on its effectiveness. Consuming enough water when ill with a cough caused by an infection may be as beneficial.
- Dextromethorphan: It is a cough suppressant that works by interfering with the brain impulses that activate the cough reflex. This OTC suppressant is an OTC cough medicine that is available in syrup, pill, spray, tablet, and lozenge form. Additionally, it is a component in several over-the-counter and prescription combination treatments. Vicks Dayquil Cough and Robafen Cough (Robitussin) and are the most often used brand names. It is not advised for infants under the age of four. Adult dosages vary according to the formulation type: immediate-release or extended-release. Its maximum dose in 24 hours is 120 ml.
- Pain relievers: Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) can help alleviate flu and cold symptoms, such as body pains and fever.
If OTC cough medications do not relieve your symptoms and they persist or worsen, your physician might prescribe some other medication to assist. Given that the most frequent cause of coughs is upper respiratory infections, which are almost always caused by viruses, it’s unlikely that your GP would prescribe antibiotics for cough therapy. Antibiotics are prescribed exclusively in the case of bacterial illnesses, such as strep throat.
If you have a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks, visit your doctor to rule out the potential of an underlying illness that requires prescription treatment.
How to take cough medicine
Cough medication comes in several formulations, including nasal sprays, capsules, tablets, powders, and syrups. Often, the ideal shape for you is just a matter of personal taste. For instance, many youngsters have difficulty swallowing pills, particularly if they have a sore throat, and therefore a syrup may be the best choice.
- Cough syrup: It is beneficial for adults and children who need relief more quickly than tablets, for people who have a very painful throat, and for youngsters who have difficulty swallowing medicines.
- Powder: Comparable to syrups. It accelerates the action of the medicine and makes oral administration simpler for youngsters.
- Pills: Appropriate for people who need continuous relief throughout the day
- Nasal sprays: Adults and children with sore throats who have difficulty swallowing tablets or other oral forms.