How to Get Rid of a Dry Cough: Medication & Home Remedies

Updated in October 2023

Some cough suppressants, like dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter cough syrup) and hydrocodone syrup (which is prescribed) can be indicated for treatment of a dry cough. However, there are natural treatments available if you do not want to use medication, like echinacea or ginger tea with honey

Coughing is the body's natural reflex for eliminating any foreign invaders causing irritation in the lungs. Many medical conditions can cause coughs, such as the flu, a cold, throat inflammation and allergies. 

A dry cough can be treated with home remedies or with prescribed medications. Regardless of your treatment method, keeping your throat clean and humid can help relieve any coughing and discomfort. 

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Syrups and pharmacy medication 

Some medication that may be prescribed to help relieve a persistent cough include: 

  1. Dextromethorphan (or DXM): a cough syrup for a dry, scratchy cough without phlegm. This can be taken every 4 to 8 hours.
  2. Hydrocodone syrup: a cough syrup prescribed for a dry, scratchy cough without phlegm. This is usually taken every 12 hours
  3. Cetirizine: an oral antihistamine that can be taken to relieve a cough caused by allergies. It should be taken as indicated by your doctor.
  4. Menthol rub (like Vicks VapoRub): a decongestant ointment that helps to relieve coughs. It can be applied up to three times a day or added to boiling water and inhaled.  
  5. Stodal syrup: a homeopathic remedy indicated for the treatment of a dry cough and sore throat. It can be taken two to three times a day. 

Medication that is used to treat a dry cough should only be used as indicated by the doctor. It is important that a more serious illness (like pneumonia or tuberculosis) has been ruled out before starting any medication. Ideally, you can try using home remedies to treat your cough before attempting to relieve it with medication.

Home remedies to relieve a dry cough 

Home remedies and tips that can help to relieve a dry cough and sore throat include: 

1. Homemade honey, lemon, and propolis cough syrup

Homemade cough syrup made-up of lemon, honey, and propolis help to moisturize and relieve any discomfort associated with a sore throat. This will help to reduce coughing. To prepare this syrup, you will need:


  • 8 tablespoons of honey;
  • 8 drops of propolis extract;
  • Juice squeezed from one medium lemon.

Preparation method: 

Add the honey, lemon juice, and propolis extract in a glass jar. Mix these ingredients with a spoon until they are well-combined. Keep the syrup sealed with a lid when not in use.

This syrup should be taken 3 to 4 times a day (or whenever you feel your throat is dry or sore, for a few days until the symptoms reside. Lemon is rich in vitamin C which helps to strengthen the immune system while honey coats and soothes the throat. Propolis extract is a natural remedy with an anti-inflammatory effect, which helps relieve throat aches and treats a scratchy cough. 

2. Warm echinacea tea with ginger and honey 

Echinacea and ginger contain medicinal properties that can help to treat a cough or flu virus and help to strengthen the immune system. To prepare this tea you will need: 


  • 2 teaspoons of echinacea root or leaves;
  • 5 cm (about 2 inches) of fresh ginger;
  • 1L (about 3.5 cups) of boiling water.

Preparation Method: 

Add all ingredients to a pot of boiling water, cover the pot, and let these ingredients soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then strain the infusion through a mesh sieve and drink.

You can drink this tea three times per day or whenever you feel your throat is dry. In addition to strengthening the immune system, warm water and honey will help to soothe and coat the throat, reducing cough and irritation. 

3. Eucalyptus tea with honey

Eucalyptus is another plant with medicinal properties that can help to treat a cold or flu virus, as well as other respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis. It is an excellent natural remedy for coughs. To prepare the tea you will need: 


  • 1 teaspoon of chopped-up eucalyptus leaves;
  • 1 cup of boiling water;
  • 1 tablespoon of honey.

Preparation Method: 

Place the eucalyptus leaves and the honey in a cup, and pour boiling water over them. Let the ingredients soak for about 10 to 15 minutes and strain using a mesh sieve.

You can drink this tea 3 to 4 times a day. You can alternately use eucalyptus essential oil by replacing the leaves with 3 to 6 drops of the oil. 

Inhaling steam or vapour is another great way to help treat coughs and pulmonary irritation. This can be done by adding propolis extract or eucalyptus essential oil to boiling water and inhaling directly over the pot. Another tip to treat respiratory conditions is to drink juice that is rich in vitamin C (e.g. which helps to strengthen the immune system). Honey or mint lozenges, or even hard candy, help to coat the throat and stimulate the production of saliva, both which help to relieve dry coughs.