Long COVID: Cough
Coughing is the body’s way of protecting the lungs and getting rid of things that irritate them. This is a normal and important function.
Types of cough
Some infections can leave you with a dry cough because your lungs have been irritated. This should slowly disappear during the course of your recovery. It's not clear how long after coronavirus (COVID-19) you may have a cough and it can be frustrating at times.
A dry cough is one of the most common coronavirus symptoms, but some people may have a cough with phlegm (thick mucus).
It can be difficult to control your cough but there are a few ways to help.
Ways to help a dry cough
- keep yourself well hydrated by drinking small amounts often throughout the day
- soothe your throat by drinking a warm drink, such as honey and lemon
- take small sips of liquid if you feel yourself starting to cough
- suck a sugary sweet if you feel yourself starting to cough
- try swallowing repeatedly if you have a cough and don't have a drink near you
- blow your nose if you have a runny nose – try not to sniff
You can also use positions to ease breathing if you cough when you go to bed.
Avoid things that make you cough, for example:
- smoky atmospheres
- air fresheners
- strong smelling candles
- strong perfumes or deodorants
Ways to help a cough with phlegm
- stay hydrated
- inhale steam
- try lying on either side as flat as you can to help drain the phlegm
- try moving around to help to move the phlegm
- try breathing control techniques if you move to an area with a different temperature
- try to breathe in through your nose – breathing in through your mouth can make you cough more
Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP practice if:
- you've had a cough for more than 3 weeks
- you're waking up at night coughing
- your cough is changing for example coughing up blood or phlegm turning dirty
- breathlessness is not improving
- you experience shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or chest pain
- you're worried about your symptoms
- you're worried about long COVID symptoms in a child or young person under 18
13 January 2023
Help us improve NHS inform
Feedback Alert Title