How to Cope with a COVID-19 Cough?

Any cough can be irritating, embarrassing, and after a while, painful. The COVID cough can be annoying and affect your overall quality of life.


You'll begin addressing the issue by taking treatment for COVID, such as through antiviral medications like Remdesivir or Molnupiravir. Addressing the root cause will reduce the intensity of the cough significantly. A dry cough could be a mild presentation of COVID in children and young adults.

Many COVID patients continue to have a lingering, raspy dry cough that won't quit even months after recovery. A normal cough with flu/common cold that throws up phlegm is accompanied by a stuffy nose or sinus and resolves within ten days.

But a COVID cough could stay on much longer, i.e., three weeks or more. It starts as an irritation in your throat because your airways are inflamed. It sounds rough and coarse, no mucus comes out, and it can happen as fits or an uncontrollable series of coughs for a few minutes.

It causes a ticklish sensation that induces more coughing. It is indicative of respiratory problems like asthma, COPD, laryngitis, and others. In this case, it is confirmative of COVID-19. Other telling signs of the COVID cough are accompanying gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and joint pain. Plus, if you face three or more coughing spells in a day or continuous coughing for an hour which gets progressively worse, you should test for COVID.

Now we know the dry cough can be a pain to manage. So we have a list of suggestions you could try to minimize your discomfort until you ride this cough out.

COVID Cough Treatments

Before beginning any course of treatment, the first rule is to ensure that a physician vets medications. There may be many traditional or pharmaceutical ways to cope. But no OTC antibiotics or antiviral drugs should be used without the express approval of your doctor, and no self-diagnosis or treatment should be encouraged.


It can be hard to sleep or even lie down to rest when this cough constantly bothers you. It can be aggravated if you sleep or lie flat on your back. This posture can aggravate your throat further and cause mucus to build up.

The best posture is sitting upright, on your side, or slanted, using a few pillows to keep your torso and head slightly elevated. You can also use orthopaedic wedge pillows. These keep your airway free so that you can breathe easier, and it's also suitable for accompanying problems like GERD or acid reflux.

Cough Medicines

The most obvious solution is to take cough syrups for children or cough suppressants for adults. You can try antitussive to reduce the reflex and the itchiness in your throat. If nothing works, an antitussive with codeine can be tried as a last resort to relieve soreness and swelling, as can prescription antihistamines. Codeine antitussives are also sleep-inducing, so they are best used at night and for limited periods. Never give children antitussives, as they can have serious health effects.

You can also use cough drops and lozenges, except for children under 6-8 years old. These dissolve in your mouth and release cough-suppressing medicine. The saliva secreted in the process also coats your tongue and throat, temporarily relieving the dryness and aches. But these effects aren't curative. Even prescription antibiotic lozenges are usually antibacterial and don't work for viral infections.

A few boiled sweets/ hard candies can keep saliva circulating in the oral cavity through swallowing so your throat isn't parched.

Warm Beverages

Warm beverages such as herbal tea or black coffee can be soothing when used intermittently throughout the day. Keep drinking lukewarm water teas throughout the day and whenever you feel the urge to cough.

A teaspoon of honey stirred into warm water with lemon can also be quite comforting. This should only be given to children above one year of age. Swallowing fluids is easier if you take smaller sips. Regular swallowing and hydration through warm fluids keep your throat moist and less prone to scratchiness. Warm fluids also break down mucus and flush out toxins or irritants in the airway.


A simple and effective technique is gargling with salt water or betadine. You can also get medicated gargling medication. Doing this twice or thrice a day should reduce the strain and hoarseness over a few days.

Steam Therapy

When it gets hard to breathe, and your throat starts throbbing, breathing in steam helps to lubricate the throat, open up blockages, and enable you to breathe easier. You can steam water at home and cover your face and the bowl, allowing the steam to saturate the air in the towel. Alternatively, as per doctors' instructions, you could try vaporizers, humidifiers, or nebulizers.

Don't Take Antibiotics

COVID-19 is a viral infection, so taking antibiotics doesn't help. It might even make things worse by causing antibiotic resistance in the body. Doctors may not recommend antiviral like Remdisivir for progressing illness if your symptoms are mild.

Instead, you may be given OTC medication containing Acetaminophen, an analgesic ingredient that reduces pain, or Dextromethorphan which suppresses brain/neural signals that induce coughing.

Children below four years are not given any of these medicines. A physician will recommend the right treatment plan concerning drugs, diet, and recovery for kids, which could be different, or in lower dosages/frequencies than adults. Medical particulars should be followed to prevent adverse effects on children, such as seizures.


In addition to these generic guidelines, your clinician may have additional measures depending on your requirements. Follow sound advice and take plenty of rest for a quick recovery.

As a parting caution, be cautious of hoax campaigns or advertisements claiming to have a cure for COVID or symptoms like a cough. Stick to tried-and-tested methods and doctor's orders.

Updated on: 04-Jan-2023


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