Discover what cough syrup is and how it can help relieve cough symptoms so that you are healthier.

Discover what cough syrup is and how you can help you relieve cough symptoms to be healthier.

Tos syrup is a medication that is usually used to treat cough and congestion associated with respiratory infections, allergies or other conditions that affect the respiratory system. It is classified as free sale medicine (OTC) and can be easily acquired in most pharmacies or drug stores without the need for medical recipe. The main objective of cough syrup is to relieve cough symptoms, such as throat pain, chest congestion and persistent cough, to provide temporary relief and improve general wel l-being.

There are different types of cough syrup, each of which responds to specific symptoms and contains different active ingredients. The expectorants are a common type of cough syrup that helps loosen the mucus of the bronchi, facilitating their expectoration. This helps relieve chest congestion and allows a productive cough to clear the airways.

The cough expectorants act diluting and loosening the mucus of the respiratory tract, making the cough more productive and relieving congestion.

Another type of cough syrup is antitusigen, which are designed to suppress or reduce cough. These syrups usually contain active ingredients such as dextrometer or codeine, which act on the center of cough in the brain to reduce the intensity and frequency of cough.

  1. Tus syrup is usually used to relieve cough and congestion caused by respiratory infections.
  2. Expectorants help loosen the mucus of the respiratory tract, facilitating expectoration.
  3. Antitusigen acts on the brain to reduce the intensity and frequency of cough.

It is important to keep in mind that, although cough syrup can provide temporary relief, it does not treat the underlying cause of cough. If the symptoms persist or worsen, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to obtain an adequate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

The Purpose and Composition of Cough Syrup

The cough syrup, also known as antitusigen or expectorant, is a medication designed to relieve cough and calm the respiratory system. It is available in different formulations, such as liquids, syrups and tablets, each of them adapted to treat different types of cough and the symptoms that accompany it.

  • TOS syrup composition:
Active principles Function
Dextromethorphan An antitusigen that acts in the brain to reduce the desire to cough.
Guaifenesina Expectoring that helps dilute and loosen the mucus of the respiratory tract, which allows it to be expelled more easily when coughing.
Antihistamines Antihistamines, which are usually found in the cough syrups related to allergy, help reduce inflammation and symptoms of common cold.
Decongestant Often included in the cough syrups for thoracic congestion, decongestants help relieve nasal congestion and open the respiratory tract.

The cough syrup can also contain additional ingredients such as analgesics (pain soothing) to relieve throat discomfort, antitusigen to suppress reflexes of local cough or anesthetics to temporarily numb the throat.

It is important to keep in mind that cough syrup should only be used following the instructions of a health professional or in accordance with the container instructions. It is not recommended to overcome the recommended dose or use it for a prolonged period without medical advice. If the cough persists or worsens, it is advisable to go to the doctor to obtain an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Types of Cough Syrup

1. Expectorants

The expectorants are a type of cough syrup that helps loosen and dilute the mucus of the respiratory tract, facilitating expectoration. These medications are usually recommended for productive or chest cough, in which there is an accumulation of phlegm or mucus in the lungs and throat. The expectorants increase the production of secretions of the respiratory tract, which stimulates the natural process of cough. Some common expectorant ingredients are Guaifenesina and ammonium chloride.

2. Suppressants

Tus suppressants, also known as antitusigen, are medications that help reduce or suppress the need to cough. These types of cough syrup are normally used for dry or no n-productive cough, in which the presence of mucus is scarce or void. Antitusigen blocks the reflection of cough in the brain, thus reliabing persistent cough. Among the most common active ingredients of antitusigen are dextrometorfano and codeine. It is important to keep in mind that some antitusigen can cause drowsiness, so they should be used with caution.

IMPORTANT: Before using any type of cough syrup, it is essential to read the instructions and follow the recommended dosing guidelines. If the symptoms persist or get worse, it is advisable to go to the doctor.

In addition to expectorants and suppressants, there are also combined cough syrups on the market. These types of cough syrup contain a combination of active ingredients that act on multiple cough symptoms. Blended cough syrups may include expectorant and suppressant ingredients to relieve both productive and dry coughs.

Type of cough syrup Main goal Common active ingredients
Expectorants Loosen and thin mucus Guaifenesin, ammonium chloride
Suppressors Reduce or suppress cough Dextromethorphan, Codeine

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist to determine the most appropriate type of cough syrup based on each person’s specific cough symptoms and medical history.

How does cough syrup work?

Cough suppressants: One type of cough syrup contains cough suppressants, which are substances that directly suppress the cough reflex in the brain. These medications work by blocking the cough center in the brain and reducing the urge to cough. Some common antitussive ingredients found in cough syrup are dextromethorphan and codeine.

Expectorants: Another type of cough syrup contains expectorants, which help loosen and thin mucus in the airways. This makes it easier to expel mucus when coughing. Guaifenesin is a commonly used expectorant found in many cough syrups. A study by researchers at the University of Arizona found that guaifenesin significantly improved cough symptoms and reduced mucus viscosity in patients with upper respiratory infections.

Common Ingredients in Cough Syrup

Listed below are some of the most commonly used ingredients in cough syrups:

  • Dextromethorphan: This active ingredient acts as a cough suppressant and helps temporarily relieve dry, irritating coughs. It works by affecting the cough center in the brain, reducing the urge to cough. Dextromethorphan is often found in over-the-counter cough syrups and is considered safe when used as directed.
  • Guaifenesin: Guaifenesin is an expectorant commonly used in cough syrups to help loosen and thin mucus in the airways, making expectoration easier. By promoting the elimination of mucus, guaifenesin helps relieve congestion and facilitates a productive cough. It is often combined with other active ingredients to provide antitussive and expectorant properties in the same formulation.

When choosing a cough syrup, it is important to consider the type of cough you suffer from. If you have a dry, persistent cough, a cough syrup with dextromethorphan may be more suitable. On the other hand, if you have a congested cough with excessive mucus, opting for a cough syrup containing guaifenesin can help promote expectoration and relieve congestion.

In addition to these active ingredients, cough syrups may also contain various inactive ingredients, such as sweeteners, flavorings, and preservatives. It is important to check container labels and consult a healthcare professional or pharmacist if you have any concerns or specific medical conditions that may interact with cough syrup ingredients.

Proper Dosage and Administration of Cough Syrup

1. Read the Label Carefully

Before taking any medication, it is essential to read and understand the instructions on the label. Find information about the active ingredients, recommended dosage, and possible side effects or warnings. Different cough syrups can contain various combinations of ingredients, so it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs.

2. Determine the Correct Dosage

The appropriate dose of cough syrup may vary based on factors such as age, weight, and the severity of symptoms. Always follow the recommended dosage on the packaging or the instructions of a healthcare professional. It is essential not to exceed the recommended dose, as it may cause adverse effects or interactions with other medications.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions

Possible Side Effects

  • Drowsiness: Some cough syrups contain antihistamines or other substances that can cause drowsiness. It is advisable to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving while under the influence of cough syrup.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness: Some people may experience dizziness or lightheadedness after taking cough syrup. It is recommended to avoid sudden movements and get up slowly from a sitting or lying position.
  • Nausea or upset stomach: Some cough syrups can cause gastrointestinal upset. If this occurs, it is suggested to take the medication with food or reduce the dose.
  • Allergic reactions: In rare cases, people may experience allergic reactions to the components of cough syrup. Symptoms may include rashes, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If any allergic reaction is observed, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Precautions to Take

  1. Read the label: Read carefully and follow the instructions that appear in the cough syrup container. Pay attention to dosing recommendations, contraindications and any warning or caution indicated.
  2. Consult a healthcare professional: if you suffer from any pr e-existing disease, you are taking other medications, you are pregnant or in the breastfeeding period, or you are concerned with possible interactions with other medications, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before using the syrup for thecough.
  3. Avoid alcohol and other substances: some cough syrups can interact negatively with alcohol or certain medications. It is important to avoid consuming alcohol or taking any other substance that may have a contraindication while using cough syrup.

Note: Cough syrup should only be used according to the indications and during the recommended time. If the symptoms persist or get worse, it is essential to go to the doctor.

Effectiveness of Cough Syrup in Treating Different Types of Cough

Different types of cough

  1. Productive cough: This type of cough is characterized by the production of mucus or phlegm. It is usually associated with respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Productive cough helps clear the respiratory tract by expelling excess mucus of the body.
  2. Dry cough: unlike productive cough, dry cough does not produce mucus or phlegm. It can be caused by various factors, such as allergies, postnasal drip or irritating substances in the air. Dry cough can be persistent and often causes discomfort and irritation in the throat.
  3. Perruna cough: This type of cough is usually associated with Crup, a viral infection that affects the larynx and trachea of young children. It is characterized by a rough and barking sound and can be accompanied by difficulty breathing.
  4. RACE TOS: Also known as the Raine cough, it is a very contagious respiratory infection caused by the border bordetella pertussis. It is characterized by strong cough attacks followed by a “Ferino” sound during inhalation.

Alternative Remedies for Cough Relief

Eucalyptus oil: Eucalyptus oil is obtained from eucalyptus tree leaves and has been used for its therapeutic properties. His strong aroma helps open the airways and decongest them. To relieve cough with eucalyptus oil, add a few drops to a container with hot water and inhale the steam. You can also mix a few drops of eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, and rub it on the chest and throat.


Eucalyptus oil should not be ingested, since it can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. It is recommended to dilute it properly before applying or inhale it.

Honey: honey is a natural sweetener that has been used for its medicinal properties. It has soothing and antimicrobial effects, which makes it an effective remedy to relieve cough. You can consume honey directly or mix it with hot water or infusions. It is especially beneficial to relieve nocturnal cough and favor a better dream.

  1. Ginger tea: ginger has been known for a long time for its ant i-inflammatory and immune reinforcement properties. To prepare a ginger tea, cut the fresh ginger into thin slices and soak it in hot water for about 10 minutes. You can add honey and lemon to give more flavor and benefits.
  2. Turmeric milk: turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and ant i-inflammatory properties. Mixing a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of hot milk can help calm cough and provide relief.

These alternative remedies can be used as independent treatments or together with medications without recipe, depending on the severity of symptoms. It is important to consult with a health professional before trying any new remedy, especially if it has any underlying disease or is taking other medications.

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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