Font Size

Coughs, Age 12 and Older (cont.)


There is no sure way to prevent a cough. To help reduce your risk:

  • Wash your hands frequently during the cold and flu season. This helps prevent the spread of a virus that may cause a cold or influenza.
  • Avoid people who have a cold or influenza if possible.
  • Don't smoke or use other forms of tobacco. A dry, hacking "smoker's cough" means your lungs are constantly irritated. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, both at home and in the workplace.
  • Increase your fluid intake. This helps keep the mucus thin and helps you cough it up. It also helps prevent dehydration.
  • Get a flu shot (influenza vaccine) each year. For more information, see the topic Influenza (Seasonal Flu).
  • Get a pneumococcal shot if you are age 65 or older; if you have chronic lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); if you smoke; or if you have a health risk that increases the seriousness of your symptoms.
  • Make sure your immunizations are current, such as pertussis to reduce your risk of getting whooping cough. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary