There is not a single best remedy for coughs, though most people can manage coughs at home with nonprescription medications and lifestyle remedies, notes WebMD. Staying hydrated, using steam to open up the chest, removing irritants from the air and utilizing over-the-counter medications can help calm a cough.
Staying hydrated is the first defense against persistent coughs, explains MedicineNet. Extra fluids help thin secretions, making them easier to cough up. Adding honey to teas or juices can soothe persistent coughs, while freshly grated ginger root can open up the nasal passages and calm chronic coughing.
Steam, whether from a vaporizer, humidifier or a pot of water on the kitchen stove, moisturizes inflamed air passageways and helps clear out mucus, making it an effective remedy for coughs, according to HowStuffWorks. To make a steam tent, boil water in a saucepan, turn off the heat and add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil or a dollop of Vicks VapoRub, stirring to disperse. Remove the pot to a table or counter, drape a towel over the head and lean over the pot. Breathe gently for 10 to 15 minutes to help open up the nose and chest.
Appropriate use of nonprescription medicines can help a cough when other home treatments are not effective, adds WebMD. Decongestants dry up mucus in the lungs, open up air passages, reduce mucus production and shrink swollen nasal tissues. Cough suppressants and expectorants can help a person sleep at night, and expectorants can help a person expel thick mucus by thinning it so it can be coughed up.