4 Different Treatment Options for Chronic Cough and Mucus
Individuals suffering from excess mucus or a chronic cough may be suffering from postnasal drip, bacterial infection or a virus. Common treatments include over-the-counter medications such as a decongestant, oral or nasal antihistamine or nasal spray to dry up the mucus and reduce drainage in the throat that may be prompting a chronic cough. Antihistamines may cause drying of the eyes, mouth or nose and drowsiness. In addition to reducing excess mucus and coughing, antihistamines and decongestants are designed to eliminate sneezing and a runny nose, both of which are common with postnasal drip.
People with a bacterial infection may require prescription antibiotics to fight the infection, especially when mucus has a green or yellow color. Viral infections do not typically respond to antibiotics, though, and over-the-counter medication, rest and fluids are recommended.
A chronic cough or excess mucus production may be related to asthma. Physicians treat asthma with inhaled glucocorticoid medications and a prescribed bronchodilator to open the air passageways. Asthma medications work to decrease airway inflammation for individuals with shortness of breath and wheezing.
Lifestyle habits can impact the amount of mucus produced and cause chronic coughing. Physicians are likely to recommend patients suffering from acid reflux or a "smoker's cough" make changes to their daily routine. For example, individuals with acid reflux should avoid foods high in fat and chocolate as well as acidic beverages such as juice or excessive alcohol. People who are overweight and experience a chronic cough may be prescribed a diet and exercise program, and smokers should adopt a plan to quit smoking.
Home remedies can help provide some relief from excess mucus production and a chronic cough. People can opt to cover pillowcases and mattresses with dust mite proof covers to eliminate potential allergens in the home. All mattress covers, sheets and pillowcases should be washed regularly in hot water. Regular dusting and vacuuming are recommended to reduce allergens in the home, and installing HEPA air filters in the home can help eliminate dust that prompts chronic coughing and excess mucus.
Treatment options for a chronic cough or excess mucus vary based on the underlying cause. Some patients may experience long-term coughing caused by chronic bronchitis, postnasal drip or lifestyle habits such as smoking. Physicians often attempt to diagnose the cause before determining treatment options for the infection that is causing a chronic cough or excess mucus.