How to tackle a cough

A typical cough will usually clear up after your immune system has defeated the bug that is causing it. Most coughs are caused by the common cold.

How to tackle a cough

Runny nose is a symptom of cough

Runny nose

Glandular fever – You may also feel very tired and have a fever and swollen glands in your neck.


Ear ache is a symptom and a cause of cough

Ear Ache

Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking

Sore throat

General aches and pains are a symptom of cough

General aches and pains

Smoking can cause you to have a cough. Other causes include heartburn, allergies (hay fever) and mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose.

If you have asthma, your cough may be caused by dust, pollens, grasses, cold air or exercise.

Symptoms and causes of a cough

Chesty ‘Wet’ Cough comes from the chest is often triggered by excessive mucus.

Chesty ‘Wet’ Cough

A cough that comes from the chest is often triggered by excessive mucus. You may find yourself coughing up a large amount of phlegm at a regular rate for a number of days.

Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking

Dry, Tickling Cough

This type of cough occurs when the throat doesn’t produce enough mucus, resulting in throat irritation.

Cough - A cough can also be a symptom of a cold or the flu. Individuals may also suffer from a mucous, chest, dry or tickly cough


This type of cough produces yellow-grey phlegm and is normally accompanied by cold-like symptoms such as stuffy nose, headache, and fatigue.

Colds or flu – you may also have a blocked or runny nose, a cough, a high temperature (fever), a headache and general aches

Post-Viral Cough

A post-viral cough is a common symptom following an upper respiratory tract infection due to throat inflammation.


The best way to ease a tickly or chesty cough is with any of the common over-the-counter medicines. It’s important to treat a cough as early as possible and not let it progress, ensuring you do not spread a virus you may have to others like your colleagues or your children.

If your cough is a result of a cold or the flu, you do not need to see the doctor. Antibiotics will not cure a cold or the flu.

What else could I do?

Resting up and wrapping up can help speed up recovery.

Drink plenty of water or fluids.

Hot lemon with honey is a good home remedy to help soothe a cough. (Not suitable for babies.)

You can suck on cough drops or hard sweets. They may ease a dry cough and soothe an irritated throat. (Best avoided with young children, in case of choking)

Moisturising the air by taking a steamy shower can help in easing a cough.

People with asthma

If you have asthma, you are probably already on inhalers or other medication to control your asthma. When your symptoms flare you need to follow the management plan you have agreed with your doctor.

When should I see a doctor?

Consult your doctor if your cough (or your child’s cough) doesn’t go away after a few weeks or if it also involves any one of these:

  • Coughing up thick, greenish-yellow phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Experiencing a fever
  • Experiencing shortness of breath
  • Experiencing fainting
  • Experiencing ankle swelling or weight loss

Seek emergency care if you or your child is:

  • Choking or vomiting
  • Having difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Coughing up bloody or pink-tinged phlegm
  • Experiencing chest pain

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