Are you one of those who take cough syrups regularly? Do you pop a spoonful of these colourful, sweetened, and flavoured formulations for relief from cough? Read on to know why taking cough syrups may not be the solution to it. 

Coughing can actually be useful, and you should not try to stop it. Cough is a common reflex action that clears the throat of mucus or foreign irritants. This may occur because of excess secretions, allergens, and environmental irritants such as dust and smoke. 

You may ingest cough syrups without even giving it a second thought, but there could be many reasons behind your cough. Let us look at some of the most common ones: 

  • Common cold.

  • Influenza (flu).

  • Inhalation of irritants like smoke, dust, chemicals, or a foreign body.

  • Pneumonia (swelling and redness of lungs due to bacterial or viral infection).

  • Whooping cough (uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe).

  • Allergies (from grass and tree pollen, spores from mould and fungi, dust, and animal dander).

  • Asthma.

  • Bronchitis (swelling and redness of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs).

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or acidity).

  • Postnasal drip (makes you feel like you constantly want to clear your throat).

Now, let’s see why cough syrups may not be the best answer to your problem.

Cons of Cough Syrups

  • Most of these cough syrups contain decongestants (compounds that relieve congestion), expectorants (compounds that promote the secretion of saliva and mucous by the air passages), antihistamines (compounds that help with allergies), and antitussives (compounds that prevent or relieve cough).

  • Antitussives like dextromethorphan suppress cough by blocking the body’s cough reflex.

  • Cough suppressants can cause sputum (saliva mixed with mucous) retention which is harmful in patients with chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis (a lung condition that causes coughing up of mucous due to scarred tissue in the bronchi, or the passages that let air into the lungs).

  • These cough syrups can make you feel drowsy and help you sleep but they may not provide a cure. 

What Can You Do?

You can choose home remedies instead of cough syrups to alleviate mild cough. Here are a few of them:

  • Steam inhalation helps clear airways and chest of excess mucous.

  • Honey can be more effective than dextromethorphan in easing the cough. You can add honey, nutmeg powder, and ginger juice to lukewarm water or green tea and drink it for relief.

  • Probiotics (foods with live bacteria beneficial for your health) like yoghurt may not aid in relieving your cough directly, but they can prevent acidity or GERD, which is linked with cough.

  • Saltwater gargling can assist you with a scratchy throat that leads to a cough. Add salt to lukewarm water for some benefits.

  • Turmeric milk is an age-old remedy for many ailments. Try warm turmeric tea or golden milk for your cough.

Understanding the reason behind your cough is very important. Do not self-medicate. Try these home remedies to reduce your cough. If your cough persists for two weeks or more, get yourself diagnosed and treated. Take care of yourself, and be prepared for winter. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.