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Having a cough isn’t much fun, but thankfully there are many cough remedies available to help find relief. Whether you’re looking for a cough home remedy or an over-the-counter option from the pharmacy or supermarket, here are a few things you can try to help you get back to feeling better.

Vitamins and supplement remedies for common cold symptoms

A cough can sometimes be a symptom of the common cold. For common cold symptoms, you might want to try some of the following vitamins and supplements, which are known to support your body’s general health as you recover from your cold.

Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C helps to keep your skin, bones and connective tissues healthy. It also has a role in wound healing, preventing infections and iron absorption.
  • Vitamin C may help lessen the severity and duration of common cold symptoms.

Zinc

  • Zinc has various important roles in our body, including immune system function, wound healing and skin health.
  • Taking zinc lozenges or syrup at the start of your cold may also help lessen the severity and duration of symptoms.

Probiotics

  • Probiotics are live bacteria found in various foods and which are also available in tablet form. They can have general health benefits when consumed, including helping the immune system ward off infections.
  • Probiotics may help with recovery from common respiratory tract infections like the common cold.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D helps keep the body healthy by absorbing calcium for bone and muscle health.
  • While it may not help with relieving symptoms, Vitamin D supplementation may help protect against future respiratory tract infections.

Echinacea

  • Echinacea is known to help stimulate the immune system to fight infections more effectively.
  • Like Vitamin D, echinacea may not help with cold symptoms, but using echinacea supplements may reduce your chances of catching a cold in the future.

What about a natural cough remedy?

If you’re after natural home remedies for cough and cold, here are some self-care strategies you can try:

  • Honey – up to 2 teaspoons before bedtime may help alleviate night-time cough symptoms, but this should not be used for children less than 12 months old1,2
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Rest and avoid vigorous activity until your symptoms go away
  • Avoid exposure to smoke, pollution and cold dry air
  • If you have a dry cough, avoid overusing your voice or clearing your throat to reduce irritation
  • If you have a productive (wet) cough, try to remove the phlegm and mucus.

Be aware that vaporisers and humidifiers don’t make coughing better.

Over-the-counter remedies for cough

Strepsils Herbal Cough+ Lozenges are one medication option you can try to help relieve a cough caused by the cold or flu. They are suitable for adults and children over 12 years old and contain menthol to help temporarily relieve cough, as well as clear blocked nose and soothe sore throats.

What is a good persistent cough remedy?

A cough that lasts longer than 8 weeks is considered a chronic or persistent cough.3 This may be a symptom of a more serious illness, so you should seek medical advice from your doctor.

When to see a doctor

Self-care with cough home remedies or simple over-the-counter treatments may not always be enough. You should seek medical attention if:1

  • You have a cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks
  • The cough is severe or getting worse
  • You are short of breath
  • You cough up blood
  • You have unexplained problems like weight loss or a fever

If a child has a cough, they should see a doctor if they have:1

  • A cough that starts suddenly
  • A cough that lasts longer than 2 weeks, with or without a cold
  • A cough that interferes a lot with their sleep or daily life
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A high fever
  • Skin that is changing colour, turning blue or very pale
References:
  1. 1. Healthdirect Australia. Cough. Available here. 2. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions. Honey: cough in children with URTI. Available here. 3. Sharma et al 2021.

This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
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