Tips and Remedies for Calming a Persistent Cough

Lots of people in our communities have a nagging cough these days. As the winter respiratory virus season peaks, many individuals are reporting coughs that seem to be lingering for weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data also shows a clear rise in cases of respiratory illnesses such as the flu, allergies, RSV, and COVID-19. With mask mandates and lockdowns largely in the past, respiratory viruses can circulate with greater ease than they could during the pandemic. 

Although a cough may be irritating, it is a natural reflex that makes it easier for our bodies to clear airways of irritants and mucus. Persistent coughs can be problematic and difficult to get rid of without proper treatment. Fortunately, there are lots of different tips and remedies on hand that can help alleviate a stubborn cough. Keep reading to learn more! 

Drink Lots of Fluids

It may seem simple, but staying well hydrated is one of the best ways to manage a persistent cough. Drinking lots of water can soothe an irritated throat and help keep mucus membranes moist. Warm liquids such as teas, soups, and broths can also be soothing to the throat and help loosen congestion. If possible, avoid liquids that can dehydrate you such as caffeine and alcohol. 

Gargle or Steam

Gargling with salt water can also be very helpful in reducing throat inflammation and irritation. Simply mix a teaspoon of salt with a glass of warm water and gargle a few times a day. Doing so can ease a persistent cough and soothe symptoms of the throat. 

Steam therapy is also a great way to loosen up mucus and relieve congestion. This can be done by taking a hot shower or by inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water. Simply place a towel over your head while doing so. You can also utilize a few drops of eucalyptus oil to give the steam even better decongestant properties. 

Rest When Possible

If you have a particularly bad cough, staying home from work or school might be a good idea. This way your body can have a chance to rest while medications do their job. Staying home also reduces the risk of transmitting the illness to other people. When sleeping, it can be helpful to elevate your head to reduce postnasal drip and coughing. This can be done by adding an extra pillow or a wedge-shaped pillow with an incline. 

Medication Management

For persistent or severe coughs, taking over-the-counter cough medications can be helpful. Saline nasal drops are also helpful for nasal congestion in particular. They can be bought over the counter and relieve symptoms in people of all ages. 

Although they can’t shorten the duration of a cold, people might find some relief from symptoms by using decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers. These medications are often overused or misused, so make sure to follow the recommended dosage and consult with your healthcare provider if needed. 

In addition to medications, cough drops and lozenges can also provide temporary relief by numbing the throat and suppressing the urge to cough. Look for options that include menthol or honey, ingredients that have strong soothing properties. Although cough drops and lozenges are helpful, it is best not to rely on them as a long-term solution. 


In conclusion, managing a persistent cough requires a combination of remedies. Make sure to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and try different methods that can bring symptom relief. However, if your cough persists for an extended period or is accompanied by other symptoms, make sure to contact your healthcare provider to get diagnosed properly. 

Although coughs can be irritating and sometimes linger for too long, they will eventually go away for most people. Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes and home remedies such as gargling and steaming can make a difference for those looking to get relief from their symptoms.