Choosing the Right Cough Medicine: Suppress or Expectorate?

27 December 2018
 Categories: , Blog

If a cough is driving you batty, then you may have decided to try a cough medicine to calm things down. While cough medicines may not cure underlying problems, they can manage cough symptoms for you.

However, you need to choose the right medicine for the type of cough you have to see any real benefits. What do you need to consider when you choose a cough syrup?

How Do Cough Medicines Work?

Cough medicines aren't all the same. Products target certain types of coughs; each medicine works on some coughs but not others.

For example, a medicine for dry coughs typically soothes the tickly urge you have to cough all the time. They are supposed to reduce coughing by soothing your throat. On the other hand, a medicine for a chesty cough actually makes you cough more. These products are supposed to help you cough up stuff to get rid of it.

What Kind of Cough Do You Have?

If you choose the wrong cough medicine, you won't see any benefits. It could actually make your cough worse rather than better.

So, if you have a dry cough, you need to use a medicine that alleviates dry cough symptoms and suppresses your coughing. You don't want a medicine that contains an expectorant that will make you cough more to clear out gunk. You don't have gunk to clear out, and the last thing you want is a medicine that increases the ferocity of your coughing.

On the other hand, if you have a chesty cough, then you may feel like there is stuff in your chest that needs to come out. You aren't coughing hard enough to clear this stuff out on your own, so you need a cough medicine that will help you do this.

Medicines that contain expectorants make you cough harder with the aim of clearing your chest. If you were to use a dry cough medicine for this kind of cough, you'd suppress your coughing rather than encourage it along. Your chest will still feel bunged up, but you won't be able to cough hard enough to clear it.

If you have a persistent cough that you can't get rid of even with the help of a cough syrup, then make an appointment to see your GP. Persistent coughs may not be serious in themselves, but they can be a sign of an infection or more serious condition if they last for more than a few weeks.