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Instant Relief from a Tickly Cough: Expert-Recommended Solutions

how to stop a tickly cough instantly

A tickly cough can be quite bothersome, disrupting daily life and causing significant discomfort. This type of cough typically arises from irritation in the throat and can be persistent or intermittent. Though it can be challenging to stop a tickly cough instantly, various remedies and strategies may provide relief and ease your symptoms. In this article, we will explore how to stop a tickly cough instantly, provide insight into various home remedies and medical treatments, and offer guidance on when to seek professional help. By understanding the underlying factors and employing these techniques, you can alleviate your cough and regain control of your well-being.

Home remedies for tickly cough

There are several home remedies that can help alleviate a tickly cough. While not all remedies will work for everyone, trying a combination of these methods may provide some relief:

Honey: Honey has natural soothing and antibacterial properties. Mix one tablespoon of honey in a cup of warm water, tea, or lemon juice and drink slowly. This can help reduce throat irritation and calm the cough.

Gargle with warm saltwater: Gargling with a mixture of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt can help soothe throat irritation and reduce coughing.

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water and warm liquids like herbal tea, can help thin mucus and reduce irritation in the throat.

Use a humidifier: Adding moisture to the air with a cool-mist or warm-mist humidifier can help soothe a dry and irritated throat.

Steam inhalation: Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water or a hot shower can help ease throat irritation and reduce coughing.

Throat lozenges: Sucking on throat lozenges or hard candy can help stimulate saliva production, which can help keep the throat moist and reduce irritation.

Licorice root tea: Licorice root has natural anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, making it a popular remedy for tickly coughs. Drinking licorice root tea may help ease throat irritation and coughing.

Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe an irritated throat. Try chewing on a small piece of ginger or making ginger tea by boiling ginger slices in water.

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Peppermint: Inhaling the aroma of peppermint essential oil or drinking peppermint tea can help soothe an irritated throat and reduce coughing.

Elevate your head: Propping yourself up with pillows while sleeping can help reduce coughing by preventing post nasal drip from irritating the throat.

How to soothe a tickly cough at night?

A tickly cough can be especially bothersome at night, interrupting sleep and making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Here are some strategies to help soothe a tickly cough and improve sleep quality:

  • Elevate your head
  • Use a humidifier
  • Drink warm liquids
  • Gargle with warm saltwater
  • Use throat lozenges or cough drops
  • Maintain good hydration
  • Apply vapour rub
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Take over-the-counter cough medicine

Best over-the-counter medicine for tickly cough

The best over-the-counter (OTC) medicine for a tickly cough will depend on individual preferences and the specific symptoms experienced. Some common OTC medicines that may help alleviate a tickly cough include:

Cough suppressants 

Medications containing dextromethorphan (DM) can help suppress the cough reflex. Examples include Robitussin DM and Delsym.


These medications can help alleviate coughs caused by allergies or postnasal drip. Some examples are diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cetirizine (Zyrtec).


For coughs related to nasal or sinus congestion, decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) can help.


Guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin) can help thin mucus and make it easier to cough up, which might be beneficial for a tickly cough associated with mucus production.

Lozenges or throat sprays 

Throat lozenges or sprays containing soothing ingredients like honey, menthol, or benzocaine can help provide temporary relief from throat irritation and coughing.

Combination medicines 

Some OTC medications combine multiple active ingredients to address various symptoms, such as cough, congestion, and sore throat. Examples include DayQuil, NyQuil, and Theraflu.

Foods to avoid with a tickly cough?

Certain foods can exacerbate a tickly cough or throat irritation. It’s best to avoid or limit the consumption of these foods when experiencing a tickly cough:

Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt can sometimes thicken mucus, which may worsen a cough. However, this effect varies among individuals.

Spicy foods: Hot and spicy foods can irritate the throat and cause more coughing.

Acidic foods and beverages: Citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar can irritate the throat lining, leading to increased coughing.

Caffeinated drinks: Coffee, tea, and some sodas can cause dehydration, which may worsen throat irritation and coughing.

Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages can also contribute to dehydration and throat irritation, exacerbating a tickly cough.

Sugary foods and drinks: Excess sugar can lead to increased mucus production and throat irritation.

Fried and fatty foods: These foods can cause inflammation and may worsen a tickly cough.

Processed foods: Foods high in artificial preservatives, additives, and colours can potentially trigger coughing in some individuals.

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Allergens: If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, consuming those foods can cause inflammation and increase coughing.

Cold foods and drinks: Some people may find that cold foods and beverages, such as ice cream or iced drinks, can trigger a tickly cough. Opt for warm or room temperature options instead.

How to stop a tickly cough instantly?

Here are some quick methods that may provide immediate relief:

  • Sip warm water

Drinking warm water can help soothe an irritated throat and provide temporary relief.

  • Suck on a throat lozenge or hard candy 

This can stimulate saliva production, helping to moisten and soothe the throat.

  • Take slow, deep breaths 

Breathing slowly and deeply can help relax the throat muscles and reduce the urge to cough.

  • Use a cough suppressant 

Over-the-counter cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan can provide temporary relief.

When to see a doctor for a tickly cough?

It’s important to see a doctor for a tickly cough in the following situations:

  1. Cough persists for more than 2-3 weeks
  2. Severe, worsening, or disruptive cough
  3. High fever or chills
  4. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  5. Chest pain or tightness
  6. Coughing up blood or rust-colored mucus
  7. Rapid weight loss or fatigue
  8. Night sweats
  9. Wheezing or a high-pitched sound when breathing
  10. Recurring or chronic cough

How to differentiate between tickly and chesty coughs? 

Tickly and chesty coughs have distinct characteristics, which can help differentiate between the two. Here is a table outlining the differences:

Aspect Tickly Cough Chesty Cough
Description Dry, non-productive cough Wet, productive cough
Cause Throat irritation, postnasal drip Excess mucus in the lungs, airways
Sound Hacking, throaty Rattling, phlegmy
Mucus Little to no mucus Noticeable mucus, may be discolored
Common Triggers Allergies, cold, dry environment Infections, cold, bronchitis, flu
Main Symptom Itchy, irritated throat Feeling of congestion in chest

A tickly cough is usually a dry, non-productive cough caused by irritation in the throat, often accompanied by an itchy or tickling sensation. Common triggers include allergies, viral infections, or dry environments.

On the other hand, a chesty cough is characterized by the presence of mucus and is often described as a wet or productive cough. This type of cough is commonly associated with respiratory infections, such as colds, bronchitis, or the flu, where mucus builds up in the lungs and airways.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What can I drink to stop a tickly cough instantly?

Ans: Drinking warm water, honey and lemon tea, or ginger tea can soothe the throat and help stop a tickly cough.

Q2: When should I see a doctor for a tickly cough?

Ans: If a tickly cough persists for more than a few days, is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing, or if you have a history of respiratory problems, it is important to see a doctor.

Q3: Can over-the-counter antihistamines help stop a tickly cough?

Ans: Antihistamines are typically used to treat allergies and may help relieve a tickly cough caused by postnasal drip. However, they are not always effective in stopping a cough.

Q4: What are some natural remedies that can help stop a tickly cough?

Ans: Natural remedies such as honey, garlic, turmeric, and peppermint tea have been shown to have cough-suppressing properties and may provide relief from a tickly cough.

Q5: Can over-the-counter cough suppressants help stop a tickly cough?

Ans: Cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan can help stop a tickly cough by blocking the cough reflex, but they should only be used as directed.

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