Is expectorant for dry or wet cough?

Having a cough is certainly not a comforting experience. Do you know that there is a reason why we cough? Cough is a body response to protect the lung and windpipe from materials that potentially irritates it. It is a normal reflex of the body to clear the airway from many foreign substances such as germs, mucus, inhaled dirt, food and anything that irritates the throat and airways. Since coughing in general can affect a person’s mood and in some cases may even affect their daily life routine, taking medicine can greatly help to reduce the cough.

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) cough remedies available in the market and easily obtained at affordable prices. One may be confused on which is good for their cough. You may see words such as expectorant, cough suppressant or antitussives on the cough medicine labels. From here on, you may be unsure which is suitable for your cough and a question of “is expectorant for dry or wet cough” may pop up in your mind. Fret not, we will be learning more about cough medicine in general and hopefully help you to choose the right medicine.

Before choosing the cough medicine, you have to understand what kind of cough you are having. Coughs can be wet coughs or dry coughs. Dry coughs do not bring the mucus from the upper airways such as the sinuses, throat and vocal cord while wet coughs or productive coughs raise phlegm or mucus from the lower respiratory tract. Although, dry cough may be resulted from irritation of the airways below the windpipe. In simple words, wet cough does cause you to have phlegm whereas dry cough does not.

There are two types of cough medicine to choose from:

1) Cough suppressant (antitussives)- This type of medicine works by blocking the cough reflex. This can greatly help for dry coughs which are often painful or to help ease coughs that cause you to have sleepless nights. Most common active ingredients in a cough suppressant or antitussives are dextromethorphan.

2) Expectorants- This type of medicine works by thinning the mucus in the airways. In other words, expectorants help a person to cough it up. Thus, expectorants work better for a wet cough.

If OTC medicine does not help to relieve cough, it is best to get yourself checked with doctors. Since there are many causes that could lead to cough, doctors will ask several questions and do physical examinations to help identify the cause. Laboratory tests such as blood tests and imaging tests like X-ray may be done in some cases if doctors suspect more serious issues. Doctors may prescribe medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, antibiotics or acid blockers to help alleviate cough symptoms. Do make sure to follow the doctor’s advice and take medicine accordingly.

While most cough may be treated on your own by doing home remedy or taking OTC medicine, you should always speak to a doctor if your cough last for almost a month, severe coughing, coughing up blood, breathing difficulties, cough that lead to chest pain, unexplained weight loss, persistent change in your usual voice and lumps or swelling in the neck. If you are concerned with your cough and feeling worried, it is alright to set an appointment with a doctor.

It can be concluded that coughs can be dry or wet. Choosing the right OTC cough medicine based on the type of cough is one of the keys for an effective relief. Simple home remedies of drinking plenty of water and rest should be able to improve cough in general. Taking a tablespoon of honey before bed or taking a natural cough relief supplement may help soothe the cough.

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