The Symptom: Cough
What it means: A reflex that keeps the throat clear, a cough is triggered when excessive mucus (or some other irritant) has irritated the nerve endings in the respiratory tract.
When to worry: If you’re short of breath and coughing up blood or discolored mucus, you may have bronchitis, sinusitis, or pneumonia.
Home remedies: Skip the medicated cough drops; they have been proven ineffective. Instead, soothe an irritated throat with your favorite hard candy, or drink warm fluids.
Over-the-counter remedies: Products with pseudoephedrine work but can make you sleepy. Nondrowsy versions with phenylephrine aren’t as effective. Naproxen may reduce throat inflammation.