Best Ways to Get Rid of a Cough in 5 Minutes illustration

The 15+ Best Ways to Get Rid of a Cough in 5 Minutes (2024)

by | Updated: Apr 28, 2024

Coughing, whether due to colds, allergies, or irritants, can be not only uncomfortable but also disruptive.

While persistent coughs may indicate an underlying condition that needs medical attention, there are instances where one seeks swift relief, even if momentarily.

This article explores swift and effective strategies to manage and alleviate coughs and the discomfort they bring.

How to Get Rid of a Cough in 5 Minutes?

It’s unlikely to completely eliminate a cough in 5 minutes as coughs are symptoms of underlying issues, like infections or irritations. However, sucking on a cough lozenge or drinking a mixture of hot water, honey, and lemon can soothe irritation temporarily. It’s essential to address the root cause for long-lasting relief.

home remedies to get rid of a cough fast vector illustration

Fast Cough Remedy Options

  1. Stay Hydrated
  2. Use Cough Lozenges
  3. Inhale Steam
  4. Drink Honey and Lemon Tea
  5. Use Over-the-Counter (OTC) Cough Medicines
  6. Use a Humidifier
  7. Avoid Irritants
  8. Gargle with Saltwater
  9. Suck on Ice Chips
  10. Use a Saline Nasal Spray
  11. Elevate Your Head While Sleeping
  12. Practice Good Hand Hygiene
  13. Drink Herbal Teas
  14. Use Essential Oils
  15. Eat Spicy Foods

1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital when you’re suffering from a cough as it helps to keep your throat moist and can loosen mucus.

Drinking water, herbal teas, and clear broths are effective ways to stay hydrated. Adequate hydration can soothe an irritated throat and can help relieve congestion, making it easier to cough up mucus.

Note: It is recommended to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can cause dehydration.

2. Use Cough Lozenges

Cough lozenges, or cough drops, can offer quick relief from a cough.

They often contain menthol, which acts as a mild anesthetic and provides a cooling sensation to the throat, temporarily relieving pain and reducing the urge to cough.

Lozenges can also stimulate saliva production, which can help keep the throat moistened, providing added comfort to an irritated throat.

3. Inhale Steam

Inhaling steam is a traditional remedy to relieve coughs and congestion. The warmth and moisture from the steam can soothe your airways and help loosen mucus, making it easier to expel.

To inhale steam, fill a bowl with hot water, add a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint if desired, and lean over the bowl with a towel over your head to trap the steam.

Note: Inhale deeply for a few minutes and repeat several times a day.

4. Drink Honey and Lemon Tea

Honey and lemon tea is a classic home remedy for coughs. Honey has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe an irritated throat and suppress a cough.

Lemon is rich in vitamin C and can help boost the immune system. To make honey and lemon tea, mix a tablespoon of honey and the juice of half a lemon into a cup of hot water.

Note: Drinking this mixture several times a day can provide relief from a cough and soothe a sore throat.

Our Top Pick
Yogi Tea - Honey Lemon Throat Comfort

This is a soothing herbal tea blend featuring the sweet taste of honey and the zesty flavor of lemon, designed to ease coughing and sore throats.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

5. Use Over-the-Counter (OTC) Cough Medicines

Over-the-counter cough medicines can be helpful in managing cough symptoms.

Expectorants, such as guaifenesin, can thin mucus, making it easier to cough up, while cough suppressants like dextromethorphan can temporarily reduce the urge to cough.

Decongestants can relieve congestion and are especially useful for coughs due to colds or allergies.

Note: Always read the label, use medications as directed, and consult a healthcare provider if you have any concerns or pre-existing conditions.

6. Use a Humidifier

A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can soothe a dry or scratchy throat and relieve congestion.

Moist air can also keep nasal tissues moist, prevent airway irritation, and reduce coughing.

It is particularly useful in winter when indoor air tends to be dry. Make sure to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.

Our Top Pick
Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

A high-quality cool mist humidifier for improved wellness, comfort, and breathing in your home.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

7. Avoid Irritants

Avoiding irritants is crucial when trying to get rid of a cough. Smoke, strong odors, and pollutants can irritate the respiratory tract and exacerbate coughing.

Staying away from tobacco smoke and avoiding exposure to household cleaners, perfumes, and paint fumes can help reduce irritation and provide relief from persistent coughs.

Using air purifiers can also help in reducing airborne irritants.

8. Gargle with Salt Water

Gargling with salt water is a time-tested remedy for sore throats and coughs. It can help soothe an irritated throat and reduce inflammation.

The salt can also help kill bacteria and viruses, promoting healing.

To make a saltwater gargle, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle with the solution for a few seconds and then spit it out. Repeat several times a day for relief.

9. Suck on Ice Chips

Sucking on ice chips can provide relief for a sore and irritated throat, which can be particularly helpful in reducing the urge to cough.

Ice chips help numb the throat temporarily and provide moisture, preventing dehydration.

This method is especially helpful when it’s difficult to swallow liquids, and it also keeps the throat moist, providing comfort and alleviating cough symptoms.

10. Use a Saline Nasal Spray

A saline nasal spray is a simple solution that helps moisturize the nasal passages, reducing congestion and relieving discomfort.

By alleviating nasal dryness and irritation, it can help in minimizing coughing triggered by postnasal drip.

Saline nasal sprays are available over-the-counter and can be used as often as needed, providing a safe and non-medicated option for relief from coughs due to colds or allergies.

11. Elevate Your Head While Sleeping

Elevating the head while sleeping can be beneficial for individuals dealing with a cough, particularly one associated with postnasal drip or acid reflux.

Using extra pillows to keep the head elevated prevents mucus from pooling in the throat and reduces the chances of irritation and discomfort in the airways, leading to more restful sleep and less nighttime coughing.

12. Practice Good Hand Hygiene

Maintaining good hand hygiene is essential in preventing the spread of infections that can lead to coughing.

Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help in removing germs and reducing the risk of respiratory infections.

Using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can also be effective when soap and water are not available. Good hand hygiene is crucial in protecting oneself and others from illnesses that have cough as a symptom.

13. Drink Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are a soothing remedy for coughs, helping to hydrate and relax the throat muscles.

Teas such as peppermint, ginger, and chamomile are known for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can aid in relieving cough symptoms.

Additionally, herbal teas can also provide warmth to the throat, helping to break down mucus. Sipping on herbal teas throughout the day can offer comfort and relief from persistent coughs.

14. Use Essential Oils

Essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oil have properties that can help in relieving coughs and congestion.

They can act as expectorants, helping to loosen and expel mucus, and possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can soothe irritation and fight infection.

Essential oils can be used in a diffuser, added to steam inhalation, or mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically.

However, they should be used with caution, especially around children, pregnant women, and pets, and should never be ingested.

15. Eat Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can act as a natural decongestant and may help in relieving cough symptoms. Capsaicin, found in chili peppers, can thin mucus, making it easier to expel.

Additionally, spicy foods can promote sweating, which can help reduce fevers associated with some cases of cough.

Including foods like garlic, ginger, and hot peppers in your diet can help in managing cough symptoms, but it’s important to note that spicy foods may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with gastrointestinal issues.

FAQs About Getting Rid of a Cough

What is the Cough Reflex?

The cough reflex is a protective physiological response that helps clear the airways of mucus, irritants, foreign particles, and microbes.

It involves a deep inhalation through the glottis, followed by a forced exhalation against a closed glottis, which, when opened, allows air to be expelled rapidly, carrying unwanted substances out of the respiratory system.

This reflex is mediated by sensory nerves in the airways and is intended to protect the lungs from aspiration and maintain respiratory function.

Why Can’t I Stop Coughing?

Inability to stop coughing can result from a variety of underlying conditions or exposures to irritants.

Persistent coughing is often due to ongoing irritation or inflammation in the respiratory tract, which can be caused by infections, allergies, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or exposure to environmental irritants such as smoke or pollution.

Additionally, post-viral coughs can linger after the resolution of other symptoms.

Understanding the root cause of persistent coughing is crucial for appropriate management and treatment, so seeking medical advice is recommended if the cough persists or worsens.

What Can I Do to Get Rid of My Cough?

To get rid of a cough, it is essential to stay hydrated, use cough medicines if necessary, and avoid irritants.

Home remedies like inhaling steam, drinking honey and lemon tea, and gargling with saltwater can also provide relief.

Over-the-counter cough medicines may help manage symptoms, while humidifiers can add moisture to the air, reducing irritation in the respiratory tract.

Note: If the cough is due to an underlying condition such as an infection or allergies, addressing the root cause with appropriate medical treatment is crucial.

Is Ginger Tea Good for Getting Rid of a Cough?

Yes, ginger tea can be beneficial for getting rid of a cough. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help soothe an irritated throat, reduce inflammation, and combat infections that may be causing the cough.

Additionally, drinking ginger tea can help in promoting hydration, which is crucial for relieving coughs.

To make ginger tea, you can steep fresh ginger slices in hot water and add honey or lemon for added flavor and benefits.

However, individuals with certain medical conditions or those who are pregnant should consult a healthcare provider before consuming ginger tea regularly.

Can a Neti Pot Help Get Rid of a Cough?

Yes, a Neti pot can be helpful in addressing a cough, especially when it is due to nasal congestion and postnasal drip.

A Neti pot is used to irrigate the nasal passages with a saline solution, which can help clear mucus, allergens, and irritants from the nasal cavities, reducing congestion and postnasal drip.

By alleviating these symptoms, a Neti pot can help in reducing the cough reflex associated with postnasal drip. It is important to use distilled or sterilized water and to clean the Neti pot thoroughly to avoid the risk of infection.

Our Top Pick
Navage Nasal Irrigation Essentials Bundle Nose Cleaner

An automated nasal irrigation system featuring powered suction and pre-packaged SaltPods for consistent saline delivery.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

How to Get Rid of a Dry Cough?

To alleviate a dry cough, it is important to stay hydrated to soothe the throat and avoid irritants like tobacco smoke and strong odors.

Over-the-counter cough suppressants like dextromethorphan can provide temporary relief.

Using a humidifier can add moisture to the air, preventing throat irritation. Honey and lemon tea, cough lozenges, and gargling with saltwater are also effective home remedies for soothing an irritated throat associated with a dry cough.

If the dry cough persists, it is advisable to seek medical attention to rule out underlying conditions such as asthma or GERD.

How to Get Rid of a Wet Cough?

Managing a wet cough involves expelling the excess mucus from the respiratory tract. Over-the-counter expectorants like guaifenesin can help in loosening and thinning the mucus, making it easier to cough up.

Staying well-hydrated is essential to keep the mucus thin, and inhaling steam can also help in loosening mucus.

Avoiding dairy products may reduce mucus production for some individuals. It’s also crucial to practice good hand hygiene and rest to allow the body to heal.

If symptoms persist or worsen, consulting a healthcare provider is recommended to identify any underlying conditions requiring specific treatment.

Final Thoughts

While the methods discussed provide quick, temporary relief for getting rid of a cough, it’s crucial to remember that a persistent cough might be a sign of a more severe issue.

Always consider the root cause and consult with a healthcare professional if a cough is prolonged or accompanied by other concerning symptoms.

Short-term solutions are helpful, but ensuring overall health should be the priority.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • Morice AH, McGarvey L, Pavord I; British Thoracic Society Cough Guideline Group. Recommendations for the management of cough in adults. Thorax. 2006 Sep
  • Polverino M, Polverino F, Fasolino M, Andò F, Alfieri A, De Blasio F. Anatomy and neuro-pathophysiology of the cough reflex arc. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2012 Jun 18
  • Alhajjaj MS, Bajaj P. Chronic Cough. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-.

Recommended Reading