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The treatment for cough depends on what’s causing it. For example, if your cough is caused by asthma, the doctor may give you asthma medicine. If your cough is caused by smoking, your doctor will help you quit.
In general, doctors do not recommend over-the-counter cough medicines for acute or chronic coughs.
For coughs in children under 14 years of age: Children under 14 years should not take over-the-counter cough medicines (cough suppressants or expectorants). Cough is very common in children. Cough and cold medicines (including cough syrups) are not useful in children and can actually be harmful. In most cases, a cough will go away on its own. Sometimes coughs are caused by an underlying problem, like asthma or another lung disease, or by something in the air (pollution, smoke, allergens). Doctors will treat the underlying problem.
For adults: Adults with acute cough or upper airway cough syndrome (also called post-nasal drip syndrome) could take an antihistamine with a decongestant. Adults should not take over-the-counter cough expectorants or cough suppressants, including cough syrups and cough drops. They do not treat the underlying cause of the cough.