Current drugs for the treatment of dry cough

J Assoc Physicians India. 2013 May;61(5 Suppl):9-13.


Cough is one of the commonest symptoms of respiratory tract infections and is a frequent problem encountered in general practice as well as in hospital practice. A wide range of disease processes may present with cough and definitive treatment depends on identifying the cause and diagnosis. Specific treatment of the cause should control the cough, but this may not occur in all cases and in a sizeable proportion of patients, no associated cause can be found. An increased sensitivity of the cough reflex can be observed in patients with dry cough. Symptomatic relief must be considered when the cough interferes with the patient's daily activities and this is effectively treated with antitussive preparations which are available as combinations of codeine or dextromethorphan with antihistamines, decongestants and expectorants Antitussives are used for effective symptomatic relief of dry or non-productive cough. First generation antihistamines like chlorpheniramine and centrally acting opioid derivatives like codeine are often used alone or in combination in the management of nonspecific cough. Sedation caused by these is valuable, particularly if the cough is disturbing the sleep. Although there is extensive experimental data on single agent antitussives and antitussive combinations, there is a major paucity of published literature on these combinations in nonspecific cough. Treatment of dry cough remains a challenge in some patients and this article reviews the scope of the current drugs and combination of Codeine and Chlorpheniramine in the effective management of dry cough.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitussive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chlorpheniramine / therapeutic use*
  • Codeine / therapeutic use*
  • Cough / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Expectorants / therapeutic use
  • Histamine Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans


  • Antitussive Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Expectorants
  • Histamine Antagonists
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Codeine