Cough medication: Is coughing to be supressed or supported in the case of a COVID-19 infection?
A dry, irritating cough is typical for the disease caused by the COVID-19 virus, even though a productive cough has been described in certain cases. You have probably encountered it many times in your life: it is more or less difficult to cough out the phlegm that runs from your nose or cavities – it is referred to as post-nasal drip syndrome (PNDS).
But, as said above, a dry cough is characteristic of COVID-19, when you essentially do not cough up anything. Cough is a regular defence mechanism that keeps your respiratory passages clear. It helps the body rid itself of the viruses that have attacked the mucous membranes. The objective in treating a dry, irritating cough is to supress the cough, as it is exhausting for the patient, whereas in the case of a productive cough, the essential thing is to improve expectoration and dilute the mucus. How to go about it?
Many registered over-the-counter pharmaceutical products are available at pharmacies for treating cough. Many of them are products based on natural substances. Products for treating a cough are most often available in the form of tablets, powder soluble in water, lozenges, drops, and syrups.
Medications that supress the coughing reflex are used in treating irritating cough. These include dextromethorphan, which is contained, for example, in the following products: MedDex Vicks dry-cough syrup with honey, ROBITUSSIN ANTITUSSICUM, and ROBITUSSIN JUNIOR for a dry and irritating cough, Stopex for a dry cough, Dinarex, Mugorussol, and sugarfree Tussidrill. The active pharmaceutical ingredient butamirate has similar effects. It is contained in the following products: Sinecod, Tussical, Tussin, and Stoptussin. A dry irritating cough can also be suppressed with the substances dropropizine (Ditustat) and levodropropizine (Levopront).
Medications supporting expectoration
On the other hand, medications that support expectoration include mucolytics. They help to modify the character of mucus, reduce its viscosity, thereby easing expectoration. These include products containing ambroxol (Ambrobene, Ambroxol AL, Ambrosan, Ambrospray, Mucosolvan, Neo-bronchol, Solvolan) and bromhexine (Bromhexin 12BC, Bromhexin 8-KM, Bromhexin 12-KM, Bromhexin-Egis). Furthermore, the active pharmaceutical ingredient acetylcysteine is used. It is contained, for example, in the following medications: ACC, Acetylcystein, Belomyx, Fluimucil, Mucobene, Mucofortin, Solmucol, Nac AL. A somewhat more effective substance is carbocystein (medication: Pectodrill for a wet cough). They always come in the form of drops, syrups, lozenges, or, most frequently, as soluble tablets. All depends on your preference. Given that these medications help remove mucus, harmful substances do not accumulate in the body and breathing is eased once mucus is removed.
Medications loosening mucus
It is also possible to use medications with the active ingredient guaifenesin, which helps loosen mucus. It eases its transport and expectoration (the medications Robitussin expectorans, Medexpecto Vicks honey and ginger syrup, and Stoptussin). Herbs are also used in treating cough, such as common ivy (Hedelix, Hedecton, Hedemax, Helixir, Herbion, Mucoplant against cough with ivy, Prospan), in combination with thyme (Bronchipret thyme and ivy), and plantago and wild thyme (Thymomel).
The plant-based medication Sinupret is also available on the market, which contains extract from elderberry flowers, gentian root, verbena and laurel leaves, and primula flower. They help dissolve and expel mucus and help fight viruses that cause upper respiratory track diseases. The plant-based medication Kaloba, containing an extract from the root of South-African pelargonium, helps remove mucus from the respiratory passages.
Do not combine medications
In any case, aside from medications, it is necessary to get a lot of rest in bed and get enough vitamins. Sufficient intake of liquids and humification of the air in your house help dilute mucus.
Another important consideration is that usually, substances that ease expectoration and that supress cough should not be combined. Before using over-the-counter cough medication, you should always consult with a pharmacist or at least read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medication, to make sure that we do not take a medication that is not appropriate for us or our children.