Cough: Management

Discussing cough

Managing cough

Here we discuss the appropriate treatments for wet versus dry coughs.

Steps for managing coughs

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IDENTIFY

  • Ensure the cause of the cough is not one that requires referral to a physician
  • Identify whether the patient’s cough is productive (wet) or non-productive (dry)
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EDUCATE

  • Increase patient awareness of how to minimise transmission of cold and flu viruses to other people
  • Educate them on ways to alleviate their cold and flu symptoms
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RECOMMEND

  • Along with appropriate advice, recommend or provide treatments to suit the individual needs of your patient
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Educating your patients

As the influenza virus causes significant illness and even morbidity every year,1 patients should be educated on reducing their risk of becoming infected and how to help stop the spread of the virus. This includes:2

  • Using a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes. Single use tissue to be disposed immediately. If no tissue available. It is recommended to sneeze into the elbow.
  • Regularly and thoroughly washing hands
  • Avoiding touching the face
  • Keeping up to date with yearly vaccinations

Patients should also be educated that although there is no cure for the flu, symptoms such as coughing can be managed with techniques including:3

  • Appropriate cough medication
  • Taking honey
  • Humidifying the air
  • Drinking fluids
  • Avoiding cigarette smoke

Wet and dry coughs are treated by different active ingredients

  • Wet cough

    Wet cough icon

    Expectorants

    Expectorants such as guaifenesin relieve a wet or productive cough with mucoactive action. Also known as protussives, these medications:

    • Reduce the elasticity and viscosity of mucus
    • Facilitate mucus transport and elimination when coughing
  • Dry cough

    Dry cough icon

    Antitussives

    Antitussives such as butamirate are indicated for the treatment of a dry or non-productive cough. These medications:4

    • Reduce the sensitivity of the cough reflex5
    • Help patients to rest at night4
    • Prevent complications associated with coughs4
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Coughs are not sufficiently relieved with over-the-counter cough medication

Upper respiratory tract infection is not the only cause of coughs. Other conditions, including pneumonia, lung cancer, and tuberculosis can also present with a cough, and should be referred to a doctor if suspected.4

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Cough management: in summary

After appropriate diagnosis of cold or flu as the underlying cause of your patient’s cough, they may be recommended an expectorant or antitussive depending on whether their cough is predominantly productive or non-productive.

Panadol Cold & Flu – Trusted Formulations for Relief from Cold and Flu Symptoms

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