If antibiotics aren't going to help my cough then what will?

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Antibiotics for acute bronchitis (Cochrane Review)

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If antibiotics aren't going to help my cough then what will?

There is not enough evidence to show that over the counter cough medicines help to treat the coughing symptom but they can be effective in some people. The NHS Direct and Netdoctor websites have more details on different types of over the counter treatment. In summary there are three main types of cough medicine:
Simple cough mixtures e.g. glycerine, lemon and honey – for either type of cough, they soothe the throat
Expectorants e.g. ipecacuanha – for chesty coughs that are producing phlegm, these act on the brain to stimulate the coughing reflex to remove the phlegm
Suppressants e.g. pholcodine, antihistamines – for dry, tickly coughs that aren’t producing phlegm, these act on the brain to reduce coughing
If your symptoms are worsening, e.g. if you have trouble breathing, have a high fever, become confused or cough up blood you should see a doctor. Your cough however may take up to 4 weeks to fully settle and as long as you are not unwell in yourself you do not need to see the doctor.

Related Resources
Over-the-counter medications for acute cough in children and adults in ambulatory settings (Cochrane Review)
Quantitative systematic review of randomised controlled trials comparing antibiotic with placebo for acute cough in adults
Systematic review of the treatment of upper respiratory tract infection
Acute Bronchitis
Antibiotics for childhood coughs
Prodigy Guidance - Chest Infections
Cough illness/Bronchitis
Antibiotic prescribing and admissions with major suppurative complications of respiratory tract infections: a data linkage study
Prophylactic antibiotic therapy for chronic bronchitis (Cochrane Review)
Antibiotics for acute bronchitis (Cochrane Review)

Date of Posting: 21/06/2004
Date of next Review: 21/06/2005

Related Questions:
If I have a cough do I need to take antibiotics?
Will taking antibiotics for a cough stop me from getting more serious infections?
What if I do get pneumonia?
Do older/younger people or people with other infections need antibiotics for a cough?
If I have bronchitis do I need antibiotics?

MeSH keywords:
Cough; Expectorants; Antitussives

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