When it comes to medicating for a dry cough, there are a multitude of different options. It is important to remember to never self-treat with cough mixture for a period longer than two weeks. If you have been using cough medication to get rid of a dry cough for a long period of time without significant improvement, there is a reason for the lack of progress, and it is important to see a doctor who will be able to identify the cause, and allow an effective treatment.
If a cough is dry or tickly, cough sweets, cough drops, or lozenges are often the first port of call. These often contain ingredients such as menthol that numb the receptors allowing temporary relief from the cough. It is not advised that young children be given hard candies, as there is a potential choking hazard.
With the use of any medication, including dry cough medicine, ensure to get adequate sleep. Getting enough sleep means the medication has more efficient time with which to work.
A dry cough is known as a non-productive cough, which basically means that it does not provide any benefit to the sufferer. Most coughs are useful in expelling phlegm or mucus, but these are absent in dry coughing, and so the cough can be treated with a cough suppressant. Cough suppressants reduce the impulse to cough. There are natural cough suppressants such as lemon, honey, glycerine and linctus.
There are also chemicals that can suppress the reflex also, some examples of which are codeine, pholcodine, and dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan is one of the most popular and effective cough suppressants, and as such is common in many over-the-counter medications available. It has the added advantage that it rarely causes side effects other than drowsiness. Codeine also is very effective, but as a narcotic drug it is only available by prescription in most U.S. states.
Some medications also contain sympathomimetics, which are substances that produce decongestant effects as well as relax the airways. These are unlikely to be suggested as a dry cough medicine, though, as a dry cough is rarely accompanied by a blocked nose.
Always remember to seek the advice of a professional medical expert before taking medication.