Health Care

5 Self-Care Tips for Chesty Cough Relief

Cough. Wheeze. Gasp. Repeat.

This seems to be the cycle you go through when you have a cough.  It keeps you awake at night. It bothers you during the day. The incessant barking simply would not stop.

You have had enough.

Why, oh why?

Coughing is the body’s reflex reaction to clear the air passageways.

When something is stuck in the lungs or airways such as an irritant like dust or smoke, miniscule foreign objects like bits of food that went down the wrong pipe, or excess mucus, the body’s reaction would be to cough it up. Clearing up the airways by coughing would be considered normal.

However, if coughing lasts for more than a few days and even extends to several weeks, then it might be a sign of something more serious.

Hold your horses there, though. Don’t jump to conclusions right away and write your will. A cough is your body’s way of telling you that something may be not be working in tiptop condition.

Dry and wet cough

There are also generally two types of cough – dry and wet.

Dry coughs are normally the ones that produce a tickly sensation at the back of the throat but do not expel mucus or phlegm. On the other hand, wet or chesty coughs are the more productive type of coughs. This means that the body produces excess mucus, and coughing expels this phlegm.

A cough can be caused by several factors.

Knowing the cause of the cough is critical as this will determine the course of action when treating it. Underlying causes can range from common causes such as:

  • Dust, smoke, and other air pollutants.
  • Allergies such as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
  • A flare up of longstanding conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or chronic bronchitis.
  • Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) such as the common cold, flu, laryngitis, sinusitis, or pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) such as acute bronchitis or pneumonia.

It would be advisable to see your doctor if you have a persistent cough that lasts for more than three or four weeks, or when you experience the following:

  • If coughing expels phlegm that has a pinkish or dark green tint.
  • If you cough out blood.
  • If you have fever that is more than 39˚C.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding (as there may be medications that are not suitable for your condition).
  • If you experience severe and sudden symptoms such as chest pain, wheezing, sore ears, rashes, high fever, or persistent headaches and body pains.

Consulting a doctor would be best so you will know which treatment to take.

How can you tell if you have a chesty cough?

Aside from that feeling where fireworks are popping in your chest, here are some other chesty cough symptoms:

  • Mornings are when the chesty cough is more pronounced.
  • Chest feels congested, tight and/or heavy.
  • Difficulty in breathing is experienced.
  • Breathing in or coughing produces a rattling sound.
  • Persistent coughing produces sticky sputum or phlegm.
  • Chesty cough lasts for about one to three weeks.

Treating a chesty cough usually involves taking an expectorant to thin out the mucus and make it easier for the body to expel it. Chesty cough treatments help clear the airways and protect the body from new mucus. It usually comes in different forms such as take-anywhere tablets, cough capsules, or syrups.

Caring for yourself

Aside from taking necessary medications like expectorant syrups or chesty cough tablets or capsules, there are other things you can do to provide relief from this bothersome type of cough.

Here are the top 5 chesty cough relieving things you can do at home:

1. Drink plenty of fluids

Water is an inexpensive way of hydrating your body and replenishing lost fluids. This, along with warm soup or non-acidic tea can help moisten and soothe your throat.

Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages as these will dry you out and exacerbate your cough. Other people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are advised to stay away from citrus or acidic drinks as they may trigger excess acid production in the stomach.

2. Get enough rest

Your body needs to rest and recuperate. Take some time off work or stressful activities as much as possible and be sure to get sufficient sleep.

Stock up on energy that will help your body fight off the bacteria or virus that’s causing the cough. Ease up on the heavy lifting and put your feet up, or simply curl up in bed and relax.

3. Take steamy showers

In addition to just lounging around the house and taking things easy, it would help if you can take advantage of the steam in a warm shower. Breathing in the steam from a hot shower can help decongest your chest.

Air humidifiers or vaporizers in your room or around the house can also help your body loosen and cough up the phlegm.

4. Gargle with a saltwater solution

Gargling with saltwater is an age-old solution that is also supported by clinical evidence and research studies.

Mixing half a teaspoonful of salt in a full glass of warm water and gargling it for several seconds can help ease congestion and sore throat.

5. Avoid irritants

As much as possible, stay away from air pollutants like smoke, dust, and strong perfume or scents to avoid airway irritation.

Even scented candles with overpowering odors can trigger a coughing fit because they can also irritate the air passages.

Prevention still works best

When you have a cough, it is always wise to stay away from other people especially if it is caused by bacteria or viruses.


Stay home and isolate yourself from the crowd to prevent the spread of infection. At the same time, cough or sneeze into a tissue instead of a handkerchief and dispose of it properly. Wash your hands with soap and water so you can prevent the germs from infecting others.

It is a relief that there are over the counter medicines such as cough expectorants that can help with chesty cough. While these medications can do their jobs satisfactorily, it would still be prudent to practice good health habits such as ensuring you get good nutrition, regular exercise and quality sleep.

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