General Question

Vincentt's avatar

What can I do to reduce my coughing?

Asked by Vincentt (8069points) November 4th, 2010

I’ve been coughing a lot the past week and a half, and this week it’s become quite severe. I’m guessing it’s a case of bronchitis at this point, but the appointment with my doctor is only next Wednesday.

Now and then I’m really close to puking, I can’t do sports, and going outside is terrible – I need a 10 min. coughing fit before I can communicate properly once I get inside again.

So, I could really use a way to pass the coming week. Any tips to reduce the coughing, and improve my breathing?

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20 Answers

Judi's avatar

Urgent care. You shouldn’t wait another week.

josie's avatar


Vincentt's avatar

@Judi You really think it’s that bad? What could happen if I wait a week?

@josie As far as I can see, codeine needs to be prescribed, so that’d also be at least a week…

Judi's avatar

Acommon cold should be almost gone in 10 days. This is something else. It might just be allergic post nasal drip, but what if you have walking pneumonia or a bacterial infection? Better safe than sorry!
If you have huge financial reasons why you can’t go to an urgent care you can try something like Coracedin-D. Something with Dextramethorphan. (I have no idea if I spelt that right.)

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

If you think it might be bronchitus, try taking an over-the-counter medicaton like Musenix. It helps dry up the phlem versus swallowing it. Please keep your doctor’s appt. though. It could be something more serious.

gasman's avatar

Dextromethorphan (“DXM”) is found in over-the-counter cough remedies like Robitussin-DM. As an anti-tussive (cough suppressant) it’s supposed to be as good as codeine but less addictive and not a controlled drug. It does, however, have potential for abuse.

If it’s a productive cough then you might have bronchitis or other serious respiratory infection & should seek medical treatment & possible antibiotic therapy.

If it’s a dry cough in the aftermath of a cold, it might be lingering tracheitis or bronchitis and just take several more days to go away on its own. Either way probably a good idea to get seen, but can probably wait until Wednesday.

If you’re really worried, go to an urgent care center. If they prescribe antibiotics, take the full course even after you feel better. Meanwhile stay well hydrated & out of the cold air.

JLeslie's avatar

Coughs usually last 3 weeks, any longer and you must be checked by a doctor. If you have a fever, and the fever lasts more than a week, or you get much sicker suddenly, again doctor.

Are you congested? Is your cough productive? Do you have a fever?

For the cough take OTC cough syrup, DM. If it does not work codeine.

You should not be playing sports, you are sick.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You used to be able to get cough syrup with codeine without a prescription by asking the druggist for it. It’s been several years since I’ve purchased it, so I’m not sure if that’s still the case. I had to sign for it.

You’re going to need a prescription tussi cough syrup. Call the doctor back and see if they won’t phone a prescription in to give you relief.

The_Idler's avatar

If you’re in the UK, there is an extremely effective cough suppressant, known as J. Collis Browne Mixture, which is an over-the-counter morphine & peppermint oil tincture.

If you are in the USA, you might ask your pharmacist if the American public has been graciously permitted by their FDAddy to make use of some kind of weak-ass, overpriced equivalent.

snowberry's avatar

Here’s what I have found to work for me. I have over the years successfully treated out of control coughing with accupressure. It involves placing pressure on the cuticle area of the thumb and first 2 fingers of each hand.

One way to do this is place thin strips of tape around those areas, with just enough tension to provide pressure without causing pain. I like to use strapping tape because it does not stretch. The easiest way to do this is place a piece of tape about the length of a popsicle stick on a hard surface. Fold one end back on itself, leaving a little tab that isn’t sticky. Then, using a razor blade, slice lengthwise down the strip of tape, in about 1/8 inch widths. Then I wrap one strip around the cuticle of the afore mentioned digits, using the little tab as a sort of handle and a way to adust tension.

It’s interesting to do this on people with a bad cough, and see them begin to smile as soon as the first few strips go on the fingers. I also explain to them that when a big urge comes to cough, to press the thumb and first two fingers together on each hand, which puts pressure on the strips of tape. This is usually enough to eliiminate the urge.

I’ve done this dozens of times on myself as well as folks of all ages, including tiny babies. Very often, that’s all I have needed to control a cough.

If you need to go to a doctor, go already.

The_Idler's avatar

@snowberry cool. human body is amazing.

partyparty's avatar

Put some menthol in a bowl of hot water. Put a towel over your head, cover the bowl with the towel and inhale the menthol vapours.
If your cough doesn’t improve then you really need to see a practitioner asap.

RocketGuy's avatar

A humidifier works well, but be sure to see the doctor on Wed.

Kardamom's avatar

It does sound like bronchitis, which is pretty serious, but I hope you don’t have whooping cough. If you can call the nurse at your doctor’s office you should ask her about that. Whooping cough is an extremely serious problem that has been making a comeback lately and it’s highly contagious.

gailcalled's avatar

Additionally, non-stop severe coughing will give you very sore chest muscles and may well contribute to a cracked rib.

Vincentt's avatar

Phew, all those medical terms, I’m going to look each one up and respond separately. It might be I don’t understand everything correctly.

@Judi I don’t think it’s pneumonia, I miss a lot of the symptoms. Brand names aren’t really of any use unless you’re from the Netherlands as well. Dextromethorphan seems to be one of the ingredients of cough suppressants. I’ll go get myself some cough syrup at the drug store tomorrow, it’s in that. Over-the-counter medication is medication you can get without prescription, I suppose? And yeah, I’ll keep the doctor’s appointment, insurance is obligatory over here, so that’s not a problem.

@gasman I’m not sure if it’s a productive cough; nothing comes out of my mouth, but it’s not the type of cough where you cough twenty times without the feeling of you needing to cough being gone, i.e. it feels as if I’ve coughed something loose after I’ve coughed. I’m not really worried, it’s just quite annoying and a hindrance to my daily functioning.

@JLeslie No, no fever anymore. And don’t worry, I didn’t go to football practise today :) I do need to use my bicycle though.

@BarnacleBill Ah, of course, I’d forgotten that the doctor can also prescribe medicine without actually seeing you. I might try that if the cough syrup isn’t enough.

@snowberry I’ll see if I can try that, thanks.

@partyparty How do you obtain menthol? Is it a powder?

@Kardamom I do hope I don’t have the whooping cough, otherwise I have probably already infected a whole lot of people. Doesn’t look like it yet, though.

@gailcalled Ah, I hadn’t thought about that. I’ll keep an eye out for that.

I think I’ve found a way to at least reduce the coughing when I’m cycling, e.g., which I hadn’t thought about after a period of not being able to breath through my nose. When I very consciously breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, I can greatly reduce the amount of coughs. When I’m just sitting inside I hardly cough at all. I’ll see tonight whether it also works when I lie in bed.

Thanks for the feedback everybody.

MrsDufresne's avatar

When I was sick with bronchitis a few months ago. This was my remedy.

Take a medium sauce pan and fill it half way with clean, filtered water. Put in some fresh ginger slices and maybe even some cloves and orange peel.

Bring it to a simmer and stand over it and breathe the steam. Exhale as deeply as you can, and then put your face as close to the simmering water as the heat will allow, and inhale, through your mouth, as deeply as possible. Hold your breath for a few seconds.

If this causes you to cough, allow it. Wait until the coughing cycle has ended, and repeat.

Do this several times, (with enough time in between to prevent getting light headed), for about twenty minutes.

I did this for three nights in a row and it reduced my cough by more than half.

All the best to you.

@snowberry ooh, I’ll give that a try too

JLeslie's avatar

Just get some cough medicine, Robutussin DM or Walgreens Tuss DM, take it for a couple of days, and it will be better. Again, if it does not get better in two weeks you have to go to the doctor. It should be getting progressively better over the next two weeks. What that means is eventually it should only happen if you wake in the middle of the night, or early in the morning. You should have hours without coughing, and then every few hours maybe have a coughing jag. The jags should get further apart with each day, eventually only having real trouble in the morning and then not at all. If you are not coughing anything up that is worrisome, but I don’t see any reason to be worried since you did have a cold.

One good thing to do is in you smallest bathroom close all doors and windows and runthe shower as hot as possible, steam the room (you are outside of the shower by the way, sit onthe toilet or something) and breath in the steam for a few minutes to loosen the phlegm so your lungs can move it up and clear it out, then turn down the shower temp and take your showerin the steamy room to give you a few more minutes in the steam.

Taking some ibuprofen is still advisable a couple of time a day, because it is antiinflammatory and a muscle relaxer, and it will help your chest muscle recover. 400mg morning and late after noon, with a little food and a glass of water. If you weigh over 180 you might take 600 mg.

partyparty's avatar

@Vincentt I purchase menthol crystals from my local pharmacist. They should be readily available.

dealrrr's avatar

cough drops work for me.

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