I heard and read from various sources that there are no real cures for cough. Cough is a natural body response to expel out bacteria, viruses and other harmful debris that enter the lungs. Coughing usually last from one to three weeks. Most are self terminating and never need any commercial medicines. However, there are several over-the-counter medicines to alleviate the symptoms.
There are two types of over-the-counter cough preparations, the expectorants and the suppressants or antitussives.
Suppressants such as Dextromethorphan HBr. The drug acts on brain, partially or completely stopping cough. It should be taken with caution as it impair the ability to cough. Too much phlegm build up might result to pneumonia. Maybe taken if coughing prevents someone to take a good night sleep.
Expectorants such as Guafenisin, Bromhexine HCl and Carboceisteine. Such are not made to stop cough. It act by moisturizing the lungs and thinning the mucus thus making coughing easier and more productive. Coughing stops when all the debris are expelled.
Other medicines combined with cough medicine or taken separately:
Decongestant such as Phenylephrine HCl. It loosens and clears air passages for easier breathing.
Salbutamol. I am not sure under which category it belongs. It treats bronchospasms or the narrowing of bronchi and bronchioles airways. I think it belongs under decongestants.
Pain relievers such as Paracetamol. Coughing causes strain on abdominal muscles. Prolonged and chronic symptom may cause pain, the painful coughing and sneezing. Pain relievers alleviate pain.
Antibiotics. Should only be taken with doctor’s prescription. Recommended to kill bacterial or to prevent bacterial infection during the duration of cough.
Antihistamines. When my cough was causing series of sleepless nights, doctor recommended taking Cetirizine before bedtime. I can never find any evidence that it really works against cough. It causes throat dryness making coughing more difficult.
Stronger cough medicines are available only with doctor’s prescription.
Please remember that all types may cause severe allergic reactions and side effects. Read the included brochure carefully. Stop medication if side effects manifest.