The best way to treat a dry cough is to identify the cause of the cough if possible, and use a cough syrup for relief. Dry coughs are not productive coughs, meaning no mucus is coughed up. Dry coughs and productive coughs must be treated differently. A dry cough (nonproductive) can and should be suppressed, while a productive cough should not be suppressed to a great extent.
There are many different reasons a dry cough can develop, including being exposed to irritants such as cigarette smoke and dust. According to SteadyHealth, dry coughs often occur at the end of an illness, such as the flu or a sinus infection. People with asthma or allergies can develop a dry cough more easily than people without these issues.
The best home remedies for a dry cough, according to WebMD, include using a humidifier to add moisture to the air and drinking hot tea or water with honey and lemon. Robitussin DM and Vicks Formula 44 are both recommended because they contain dextromethorphan. If these treatments don't work, a doctor can prescribe a prescription-strength cough suppressant that contains codeine. This type of prescription-strength cough medicine can cause drowsiness and should only be taken as prescribed.