Managing a cough

While recovering from coronavirus, you might continue to have a cough for some time. If your cough does not get better, your doctor may want to refer to you to a specialist to carry out tests. Your GP and pharmacist can also talk to you about looking after your cough.

On this page:

If you have a dry cough

A dry cough is one of the most common coronavirus symptoms, although some people might find they cough up phlegm.

If you have a dry cough, try to:

  • stay hydrated – take small sips of a soft drink, one after the other. Try not to take large sips.
  • inhale steam – pour hot water into a bowl, then put your head over the bowl. If comfortable, cover your head and bowl with a towel
  • drink a warm drink, such as honey and lemon, as this can soothe your throat
  • swallow repeatedly if you don’t have a drink near you. This can work in a similar way to sipping water.

If you have a cough with phlegm

If you have a cough with phlegm, try to:

  • stay hydrated
  • inhale steam
  • lie on either side, as flat as you can. This can help you to cough out the phlegm.

The NHS has more information on how you can control your cough if you’re recovering from COVID-19.

If you have another condition that might be causing your symptoms, speak to your GP about how you might be able to tell them apart. If you have asthma, our sister charity Asthma UK has information about how to tell if your symptoms are due to asthma or COVID-19.

If you are losing weight, coughing up blood, getting chest pain or if any of your symptoms are getting worse, speak to your GP or phone 111 urgently.

Should I stop smoking? 

If you smoke, now is a good time to stop. You will see the benefits within 24 hours. Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to protect yourself from viral infections.

Find out how you can get support to stop smoking. You’re around 3 times more likely to stop successfully if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and specialist help.


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