Best medicines for dry, tickly or mucus, chesty coughs

Coughing can be quite the annoyance, especially if you’re unsure which type of cough you have. It can also lead to a tender, sore throat, which is the last thing you need while battling a cough!

Here, we explore the ins and outs of the different types of coughs, from scratchy dry coughs to congested chesty ones and everything in between. Whether you're grappling with a persistent tickle or trying to clear stubborn mucus, we've got the solution you need.

What is a cough?

When something irritates your throat or lungs, like dust or mucus, your body's reflex is to cough it out. It's like a quick blast of air to clear out the rubbish and keep your breathing smooth.

Coughs can happen for lots of reasons, from allergies to colds, and they come in all sorts of forms - from those dry, tickly ones to the ones that bring up mucus.

The different types of coughs

Dry cough

A dry cough is a cough that doesn't produce any mucus or phlegm. It's often characterised by a tickling sensation in the throat or chest and can be caused by various factors such as irritation from smoke, allergies, or viral infections like the common cold or flu.

For a dry cough, you can try over-the-counter remedies like cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan (DM), including Robitussin Dry Cough Medicine to help you get through the day, and Benylin Dry Cough Night Syrup to ease those night time coughs.


Persistent cough

A persistent cough lasting over three weeks can be caused by various factors like infections, asthma, allergies or acid reflux. Treatment depends on the cause. For infections, medications like antivirals or antibiotics may be prescribed, while asthma may require an inhaler.

Over-the-counter cough suppressants can calm the urge to cough, while expectorants help to thin mucus. Inhaled corticosteroids may be necessary for coughs related to asthma, and antihistamines can help with allergies.


Chesty and mucus cough

A chesty cough means you've got mucus in your chest and airways, often from things like a chest infection[1]
or bronchitis[2]. To tackle it, you can try expectorants that contain the active ingredient guaifenesin, such as Benylin Mucus Cough Max, that thins and loosens the mucus, making it easier to cough up.

Cough suppressants aren't usually the best choice for chesty coughs. Remember, if your cough sticks around or comes with a fever or breathing problems, it's time to see your GP for the right advice and treatment.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and airways. It spreads easily and can lead to severe complications. Getting vaccinated is essential, especially for infants and children.

Initial symptoms of whooping cough resemble those of a common cold, including a runny nose and sore throat. After about a week, the symptoms develop into intense coughing fits and a ‘whooping’ sound when breathing in. Treatment includes antibiotics, rest and humidifiers.

Wheezing cough

A wheezing cough makes a high-pitched whistle when you breathe, and it's often caused by things like asthma, allergies or bronchitis. You might feel tightness in your chest and find it hard to breathe, especially at night or around smoke.

Treatments include medicines like inhalers to help you breathe better, avoiding things that trigger your cough, and using humidifiers to add moisture to the air.

Are there any non-syrup medicine options for treating a cough?

Cough medicines come in all sorts of forms to suit different tastes and needs. From the classic syrup to easy-to-swallow tablets, soothing lozenges, convenient sachets, and even handy sprays, there's something for everyone.

Are all cough syrups the same?

The most important thing to notice is the active ingredient featured in the medicine, which is clearly listed on the bottle and packaging of the syrup. This ingredient determines whether the medicine can be purchased directly off the shelf or if it requires approval from a pharmacist.

Woman pouring cough syrup

We’re always here to help you feel better for less.

So, why not browse our selection of cough treatments today? With options tailored to every cough type and preference, you're bound to discover just what you need to kick that cough to the curb and reclaim your comfort.

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 28 February 2024
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