There are fewer things more annoying than not being able to stop a cough. Whether you have a persistent cough throughout the day or are coughing at night, you’re in desperate need of knowing how to stop a cough. Not only is a constant cough annoying, but your body can start to feel tired, and your patience may wear thin.
Not only are you inconvenienced by your cough, but others around you, such as coworkers or family, may be irritated, too. You may even get a few dirty looks from people each time you cough. Although a cough is often a symptom of a cold, you may be coughing for a variety of reasons from allergens to other health-related issues.
You probably get tired of saying, “I can’t stop coughing!” We will give you 19 tips on how to stop coughing, and they are all easy and convenient to make part of your daily routine.
How to Stop Coughing Now
Is your cough keeping you up at night? Are you missing days of work because you can’t talk without coughing? Are your body and head starting to ache from a hacking cough? If your coughing is non-stop, you need and deserve relief immediately.
While many people rely on expensive cough medicine to get rid of their cough, it’s often ineffective and filled with ingredients you don’t need. We will share natural ways to stop coughing so you can get on with your day and sleep well at night.
Inhaling steam is one of the easiest ways to help you to stop coughing. How does it work? When you inhale steam, it helps to flush out mucus, and it puts moisture back into your dry and irritated airways.
The best way to use a steam treatment is by filling a clean cooking pot about one-quarter full of water. Let the water come to a boil, turn off the heat, and carefully set the pot on a sturdy surface like a table or countertop. Drape a towel over your head and breath in the steam for up to 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to get too close to the water, so you don’t burn your face.
You can do this treatment a few times a day, and a hot bath or shower is also a good steam treatment option for chest congestion.
Not only does honey have a great taste, but it has a lot of healing properties, too. Using honey to suppress a cold is an old, “tried and true” remedy. Studies show that honey is even more effective at stopping a cough than many OTC medicines. Want to know how to stop coughing by using honey?
Add it to a glass of hot water and lemon or mix it with your favorite tea. Eat a spoonful of honey all on its own or add a liberal dollop to a bedtime snack.
3. Get a Massage
Many people consider getting a massage to be a treat or something luxurious, but if you treat yourself to a massage on a regular basis, it can help ward off illness and keep you feeling well. If you can’t stop coughing, make an appointment for a massage and let the massage therapist rub all the right acupressure points to help suppress your cough.
A good foot rub can also help to stop a cough. Pay close attention to the ball of your foot, but make sure the whole foot gets a good massage.
Turmeric is a versatile spice that can help to stop a hacking cough. One way to enjoy turmeric is by mixing a half a teaspoon of the powder with a glass of warm milk. This is a traditional remedy, also known as Haldi doodh.
You can also try turmeric powder and warm water as a gargle. Simply add a half of a teaspoon of the powder and a half of a teaspoon of salt with a glass of hot water. Gargle and spit. Sprinkling turmeric on a spoonful of honey is another popular remedy to try a few times a day.
If you can’t stop coughing at night, a humidifier may be your go-to solution. A humidifier has similar benefits to the steam treatment. Dry air can make people cough, but so can air that’s too humid. When air has a high humidity level, there’s a greater chance of mold growth, which can trigger a cough, too.
Experts recommend picking up a hygrometer, a device that measures your humidity, to make sure the air is well-balanced. Don’t forget to clean your humidifier and use clean water. It is also a great way to help your kids go to sleep with some peaceful background noise.
6. Sniff Eucalyptus
Want to know how to stop coughing? Eucalyptus oil. Having a bottle of eucalyptus essential oil on hand can help with many things, but can also quiet that cough. Take a sniff of the oil or add a few drops to the steam treatment.
7. Drink More Water!
Are you wondering, “How can I stop coughing?” Let us ask you, “Are you drinking enough water?” If you’re guilty of not staying properly hydrated, don’t feel too bad as many people struggle to drink enough water throughout the day.
Focus on drinking about a half a gallon of water each day, but don’t drink it all at once. Experts recommend trying to drink at least eight ounces of water every two hours; this amount may help you stick with the healthy habit.
8. Sesame Oil
You may have a bottle of sesame oil, in your cupboard, to add to foods and you may be wondering how it helps with stopping a cough. When you swallow a tablespoon of sesame oil, it helps to keep your throat lubricated and will likely quiet a persistent cough.
You can also try to mix it with lemon or honey, to make your own kind of cough syrup. Try either method a few times a day. Another way that people use sesame oil (for non-cooking) is by oil pulling.
Oil pulling is supposed to draw toxins out of your body. To try this method, take a spoonful of sesame oil in your mouth and try to swish around for up to 20 minutes. Never swallow the oil once you’ve started swishing. When you’re finished, spit the oil in the trash, rinse your mouth with water, and brush your teeth.
9. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is one of the most popular home remedies during cold and flu season. A piping hot dish of this soup can make you feel brand new. Don’t like chicken? Any clear broth soup will help to clear out the mucus that’s making you cough.
10. Hot Cocoa
Want to know how to stop coughing fits? Consider the power of chocolate in the form of a cup of hot cocoa. Research findings suggest that the alkaloids in cocoa suppress coughs better than codeine. Don’t believe it? Mix yourself up a tasty cup and let the cocoa coat your throat.
You may want to skip mixing your hot cocoa with milk as it can increase the mucous production in some people and increase the chance of coughing.
11. Eliminate Irritants in the Air
Have you tried some of these remedies and still can’t stop coughing? The air in your home may be to blame. Coughs can result from irritants in the air, such as dirt, animal dander, or pollen. Do a deep clean (don’t forget to wear a face mask) and consider using natural cleaners that don’t have harsh chemicals.
Change the air filters on your HVAC system and use a vacuum cleaner with a good filtration system. Keep your windows closed when pollen counts are high (if pollen is one of your coughing triggers) and change your clothes after returning from outside.
Once you pinpoint your triggers, such as a strong perfume or dust, try to avoid them as much as possible. You may also want to consider getting an air filtration system. Getting a few houseplants can also help keep the air more clean and free of irritants.
Much like eucalyptus, menthol is an effective way to stop a cough. Whether you use a vapor rub containing menthol or suck on a menthol lozenge, you should be able to see results. You may also want to try a vaporizer with menthol.
13. Sleep on an Incline
Want to know how to stop coughing at night? Sleep at an incline. Postnasal drainage and mucus backs up and irritates your throat when you lay down, which causes a nighttime cough. Try using a few pillows when you sleep, or you may even want to try to raise the head of the bed a few inches with some blocks of wood (just make sure it’s sturdy and balanced).
14. Drink Green Tea
Need ideas on how to not cough? Drinking a cup of hot green tea can do wonders for a pesky cough. The antioxidants in the tea may also help reduce any upper respiratory infection symptoms you may have, and you can always add honey as a sweetener and to boost the cough suppressant properties.
15. Clean Your Sheets
Do you keep asking yourself, “How do I stop coughing?” Your bed sheets may be to blame. If you suspect your cough is related to allergies, you may be sensitive to dust mites. Dust mites eat dead flakes of skin and are in your bedding.
Sounds gross, but it’s a fact of life. A good way to keep your mites and cough under control is by washing your bedding in hot water every week. It’s also a good idea to vacuum your mattress and box spring and the areas in and around your bed.
16. Consider Medicine
If you are still wondering how to stop cough, it may not be a bad idea to consider taking medicine. Don’t like the idea of taking a cough medicine? What don’t you like about OTC medicines? If it’s the price, generic brands are cheaper and work just as well as brand name.
Don’t like the idea of taking a non-natural remedy? Talk to a pharmacist or doctor about the best one to try. Sometimes an OTC medicine is the best resort when other treatments aren’t seeming to do the trick.
17. Saltwater Gargle
Gargling with saltwater is a simple, yet effective remedy. Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water and gargle. This mixture will help to soothe your scratchy throat and in turn, help to silence your cough. Try this treatment a few times a day.
18. Quit Smoking
Smoking is one of the leading causes of chronic coughing and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis. It can also weaken your immune system and slow down the healing process when you have a cold. If you smoke, you’ve heard all the research that strongly suggests reasons to quit.
Quitting is easy for some and hard for others. Maybe you’ve wanted to quit for a long time but just haven’t been successful. If you continue to smoke, your cough won’t improve. Talk with your doctor about resources that can help you quit for good.
19. See a Medical Professional
Although we’ve given you many remedies on how to stop coughing, you may need to seek advice from a medical professional if your cough persists. A cough can be a sign of something more serious or life-threatening.
Most coughs should disappear within a few weeks, maybe even less with some home remedies, but if you are feeling “off,” trust your gut and call the doctor.
If your cough is accompanied by a severe sore throat, high fever, or if you are coughing up blood, seek medical attention immediately. If your cough sounds like a whooping cough, you feel run down, have pre-existing health issues, or your cough is interfering with daily activities, make an appointment with a medical professional.
Even if he or she recommends some of the same remedies that you have already tried, it’s better to play it safe than struggle with a persistent cough.
What Causes a Cough?
Below, we will outline some of the main causes of a short-term (acute) and a persistent (chronic) cough:
Some of the most common causes of a short-term cough include the following:
- An allergy such as hay fever or allergic rhinitis
- A flare-up of a long-term condition such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma
- An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) which affects the throat, sinuses, or the windpipe. Some examples include the flu, a cold, whooping cough, or sinusitis
- A lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) which affects the lungs or the lower airways. Some examples include pneumonia or bronchitis
- Inhaled smoke or dust
In some rare cases, a short-term cough can be the first sign of a health condition which causes a persistent cough.
Some of the main causes of a persistent cough include the following:
- Smoking – a smoker's cough can sometimes also be a symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- An allergy
- A long-term respiratory tract infection. An example of this is chronic bronchitis
- Asthma – this is also usually accompanied by other symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath
- Bronchiectasis – this is where the airways of the lungs become abnormally widened
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – this is where the throat becomes irritated by leaking stomach acid
- Some prescribed medication, such as an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE inhibitor), which is commonly used to treat high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
- Postnatal drip – this is mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose and is caused by a condition such as sinusitis or rhinitis
In most cases, a doctor won't be concerned with whether a cough is chesty or dry, but will need to know if you are producing more phlegm than usual or if you are producing any abnormal phlegm such as thicker or darker phlegm than usual.
A persistent cough is rarely a symptom of a more serious condition, such as heart failure, tuberculosis, lung cancer, or a pulmonary embolism (blood clot on the lung).
Coughs in Children
When a child has a cough, it is usually caused similar to those causes mentioned above. For example, asthma, GORD, and respiratory tract infections can all affect children.
Some causes of coughs that are more common in children than they are in adults include the following:
- Whooping cough – keep watch for symptoms such as intense, hacking bouts of coughing, a “whoop” sound with each of the sharp intakes of breath after coughing, and vomiting
- Bronchiolitis – this is a mild respiratory tract infection which is usually accompanied by cold-like symptoms
- Croup – this causes a distinctive barking cough which has a harsh sound known as stridor whenever the child takes an intake of breath
Occasionally, a persistent cough in a child can be a sign of a more serious long-term condition such as cystic fibrosis.
How to Stop Coughing – Conclusion
We have outlined above all of the best ways of how to stop coughing as well as some of the possible causes of your cough. Although we have tried to outline all of the best ways of how to stop coughing, every condition is different and each of the methods listed above will affect different people in different ways. It is a good idea to try out a few methods and see which works best for keeping your particular cough at bay.