Have a nagging cough and looking for the 5 best cough medicines? If you go to your local drug store, you'll find numerous over-the-counter cough syrups for dry cough and productive (phlegm) coughs. Many times, it is difficult to know which one to choose, but the first question is recognizing the nature of the cough you have. If it is dry, you need a suppressant to stop the urge to cough, but if you have a lot of congestion, then you need an expectorant to loosen the phlegm.
- Expectorant medication. If you feel congested, that is what is the source of your coughing attacks, so the best cough medicines are expectorants. It breaks up the phlegm and eases the coughing. They make cough syrups for children and adults that are readily available over-the-counter.
- Suppressing the cough. If you have a hacking cough that is non-productive, then suppressants are your best options for cough medicines. Some cough remedies do cause drowsiness, so check the label, or ask your pharmacist for a non-drowsy formula if you plan to drive or need to work.
- Antacids for coughing. You may think that sounds a bit odd to take an antacid for a cough, but if you have no post nasal drip or congestion and have occasional heartburn, you could be suffering from acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD can cause coughing especially when sleeping or lying down. In this case over-the-counter Prilosec or Prevacid are the best cough medicines. These drugs control the stomach acid so that food does not "reflux" up the esophagus, which causes coughing.
- Prescription codeine treatment. If your doctor prescribes a cough medicine, chances are it will have codeine in it. Codeine is one of the best cough medicines to control nasty coughs. It can cause drowsiness, but it works better then over-the-counter medications.
Asthma medications. Another source of coughing can stem from asthma so if you have a history of the disease or have some of the symptoms, your doctor can make the diagnosis. In this case, asthma inhalers are your best cough medicines for controlling the hacking.