I have a cough

What you can try at home

Coughs are usually caused by viruses such as the common cold or flu. They usually clear up without treatment once your immune system has beaten the virus. Antibiotics won’t help with coughs caused by viruses.

Self-care tips:

  • Drink plenty of fluids – water is best. Make sure you drink something non-alcoholic at least every hour.
  • Make your own homemade cough mixture by mixing honey and lemon in hot water.
  • Some over-the-counter medicines can help to relieve cold or flu symptoms, such as a blocked nose, fever and headache.
  • If you smoke, try to stop smoking (see some tips on stopping smoking). Get advice from your pharmacy team about over-the-counter products that can help you stop smoking, or visit an NHS stop-smoking service.

When to seek professional help

See your GP if you’ve had a cough for more than three weeks after a viral infection, or your cough is progressively getting worse.

Find more information on treating coughs.

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