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The guidance applies to adults and children over 5 years of age. It's important to note that honey is not safe for children under the age of 1. Other remedies which were also found to give some benefit included the herbal remedy pelargonium, and cough medicines containing either guaifenesin or antitussive dextromethorphan for those aged 12 years and over. Most acute coughs are self-limiting viral infections that will get better by themselves.

And antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections but can still cause unpleasant side effects. Antibiotics will only usually be used if people are very unwell or have increased risk of complications due to an underlying health condition such as cystic fibrosis. Importantly we should only use antibiotics when they are really needed. Increasing antibiotic resistance may mean we might not benefit from these treatments in the future. These guidelines give clear best practice recommendations for doctors and other healthcare professionals.

These recommendations are based on the best evidence available at the time. This means guidelines get updated over the years. The guideline on acute coughs is still at the draft or consultation stage, which means the recommendations may change slightly based on feedback from specialists, but they are not likely to change significantly. Acute coughs last for a short period of time days or weeks, rather than months.

This guideline focused on acute coughs related to infections of the upper respiratory tract for example; common cold or flu , acute bronchitis temporary infection of the airways that is usually viral and other lower respiratory tract or chest infections excluding pneumonia.

Coughs: Meds or Home Remedies?

This guideline provides recommendations relating to acute coughs in adults, young people and children. For children under 5, NICE refers to its guidance on managing fever in young children. The preferred choice of study was randomised controlled trials, as these are usually the best way of comparing different treatments.

Other types of study can be used if randomised controlled trials are not available, but these may lead to weaker recommendations. For all types of study, the quality of the research was assessed against standard criteria. This in turn helped decide how strong the recommendations should be. Antibiotics can be used to treat infections caused by bacteria. However, most acute coughs are caused by viruses which neither need nor respond to antibiotics.

Even if a person has a bacterial infection, sometimes these can clear up without needing antibiotics.

7 Dry cough home remedies - How to get rid of dry cough quickly

As NICE says, when antibiotics are used for acute cough, they don't make much difference to how bad the symptoms are, or how long they last. Antibiotics can also have side effects which some people may find unpleasant. Antibiotics should only be used when the infection is bacterial and isn't going away by itself. A lower threshold for use of antibiotics may also be used if the person is clearly unwell, or for those who have other serious illnesses or weakened immune systems so are at greater risk of complications.

It's important that antibiotics are only used when absolutely necessary. This is because bacteria are starting to develop resistance to antibiotics which means that these drugs are no longer working as well as they used to. The more we use them, the bigger this problem will become.

How to Get Rid of a Dry Cough: 12 Home Remedies

Although researchers are trying to develop new antibiotics, resistance is developing at a faster rate than we are able to find new treatments. Cough and cold medicines should not be given to children younger than 6 years of age. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about whether cough medicines should be given to children aged 6 to 11 years.

Expectorants are substances that help to loosen and expel mucus from the lungs.

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They include guaifenesin, ammonia, senega, sodium citrate and ipecacuanha. Mucolytics, such as bromhexine and acetylcysteine, help break down thick, sticky chest phlegm, making it easier to cough up.


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Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, headache, rash and chest tightness. Cold and flu combination medicines usually also contain a decongestant to relieve a blocked or stuffy nose. Other ingredients can include antihistamines, pain relievers and cough suppressants. Combination products with a cough suppressant are generally not suitable for people with a productive cough.

Twelve natural cough remedies

Always take care to check the active ingredients in any combination product. If you take a combination product and then also take additional medicines, you risk doubling up on ingredients. For example, added paracetamol may lead to an overdose of paracetamol if other paracetamol products are also being taken.


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  4. Also, some ingredients may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions. For example, pseudoephedrine a decongestant may cause a rapid heartbeat, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and a dry mouth. It should not be used for people with high blood pressure, heart problems, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or urinary retention. Steam can also help break down mucus causing a chesty cough and help you to cough it up, but care should be taken to avoid burning yourself with hot water or steam. Use a room vaporiser make sure that it is out of the reach of children , or sit with your head over a bowl of hot water and a towel over your head to inhale steam.

    Menthol, camphor or eucalyptus can be added to the water. Children should try sitting in a hot, steamy bathroom rather than use a bowl of hot water to reduce the risk of burns. Physiotherapists can help in the treatment of chesty coughs, especially in people with chronic ongoing productive coughs. To help clear secretions from the lungs, physiotherapists get people to blow out as long and as hard as they can against resistance — such as through a lightly pinched straw.