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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Coughs, Age 12 and Older - Home Treatment

Cough preparation precautions

  • Cough preparations can cause problems for people with other health problems, such as asthma, heart failure, high blood pressure, glaucoma, or an enlarged prostate. Cough preparations may also interact with other medicines, such as sedatives and certain antidepressants. Read the package carefully or ask your pharmacist or doctor to help you choose one.
  • Use cough preparations with caution if you are older than 60 or if you have chronic respiratory problems.
  • Read the label slideshow.gif so you know what you are taking. Some cough preparations contain a large percentage of alcohol. Others contain codeine. There are many choices. Ask your pharmacist to advise you.
  • Do not take someone else's prescription cough medicine.

For more information on home treatment of respiratory problems, see the Home Treatment section of the topic Respiratory Problems, Age 12 and Older.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Other symptoms develop, such as moderate to severe chest wall pain with coughing, trouble breathing, a productive cough, or fever.
  • You start coughing up blood.
  • A cough lasts longer than 2 weeks without other respiratory symptoms.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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