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Chronic Cough


A chronic cough is a cough that lasts more than 4 weeks in children or 8 weeks in adults.



  • Medicines decrease your cough and soothe your throat. You may also need medicines to treat allergies or decrease swelling in your airways. If you have a respiratory infection, you may need antibiotics or other medicine to treat it.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your primary healthcare provider (PHP) if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Raise your head and upper back when you sleep:

Use extra pillows or sleep in a recliner. This will help decrease your cough.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can make your cough worse. Ask your PHP for information if you need help quitting.

Avoid chemicals or irritants that trigger your allergies:

Wear a mask if you work around pollutants or chemicals.

Eat a variety of healthy foods:

Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Do not eat for 4 hours before you go to sleep.

Follow up with your PHP or specialist as directed:

Your PHP may also refer to you a pulmonary, allergy, or ear, nose, and throat specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your PHP or specialist if:

  • You have severe pain when you take a deep breath.
  • You become very tired after a coughing fit.
  • You have a hoarse voice.
  • You have trouble sleeping because of the coughing.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You cough up blood, or find blood in your mucus.
  • You faint when you cough.
  • You have trouble breathing.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.