A cough is a sudden burst of air from the lungs. It can help to clear mucus or foreign items from the airways. Chronic coughs are those that last longer than 8 weeks.
Most coughs are treated with self care.
Use a steam vaporizer or cool-mist humidifier. It may ease your coughing.
Medicine is not always needed for a cough. If coughing is severe and making you lose sleep, the doctor may advise:
Take all the antibiotics you are given. Do this even when you are feeling well.
When taking medicines:
Talk to your doctor about what may be causing your cough or making it worse, such as:
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
Call for emergency medical help or go to the emergency room right away if you have a cough with:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Lung Association
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The Lung Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Chronic cough. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/chronic-cough. Accessed April 9, 2021.
Chronic cough in adults—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/chronic-cough-in-adults-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed April 9, 2021.
Smoking cessation: nursing interventions in hospitalized patients. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed April 9, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 7/23/2021