Not all coughs are the same

Not all coughs are the same

Especially during the colder season, you may have a scratchy and sore throat from coughing. In this Health Tip, Dr Silke Schmitt-Oggier explains which home remedies can help against the different types of cough.
"Be aware that not all coughs are the same," explains Dr Silke Schmitt-Oggier, Medical Director at santé24. For example, it makes a difference whether a cough starts at the beginning of a cold or only later on. Does your cough just go on and on no matter what you do against it, or is it one you have only at night? The different types can point to a range of causes and need to be treated accordingly.

Different types of cough

In the winter:
  • Cough when a cold starts: The cough is somewhat dry and may be painful. Here, you could use expectorants such as eucalyptus, sage or oregano, for example. But don't use them in the evening before going to sleep or in combination with medicines containing dextrometorphan, codeine or other cough suppressants.
  • Wet cough in connection with bronchitis: Here, any plant remedy with essential oil and honey can help to clear the upper respiratory tract and relieve the mucous membranes. But remember that bronchitis can last four to six weeks before it is completely cured.
  • Prolonged, possibly asthma-like cough that does not respond to normal treatment: You may need to see a doctor in person or get a telemedical diagnosis via the audio function in TytoHome. In such a case, inhaling and taking bronchodilators or using herbs such as ivy, sage, thyme or pine needles may help.
  • Dry cough: Tends to occur without other symptoms such as a cold and without fever. You can treat it easily with expectorants (eucalyptus, sage, etc.), cough candy, or fennel tea with honey. If the cough is so severe that you have trouble sleeping, Dr Silke Schmitt-Oggier recommends using a cough suppressant such as Iceland moss, marshmallow root or liquorice root.
  • Coughing only at night (possibly when having or after having had a runny nose or sinusitis): In this case, mucus from the nose runs down the throat at night and irritates it. Try blowing your nose, inhaling a remedy or using nasal drops.

During spring:
  • If you have a cough, feel tired or are short of breath during the spring but don't have other cold symptoms, you may be suffering from allergies or hay fever.

Throughout the year:
  • If you find yourself coughing throughout the year but don't have any cold symptoms, you may be allergic to house dust mites or mould.

What home remedies can help?

In the following video (in German), Dr Silke Schmitt-Oggier explains which home remedies work for which type of cough and how to use them:

When do you need to see a doctor?

If the condition worsens after a stable or an improving phase – e.g. you have fever, feel pain when breathing, or find yourself breathing heavier and faster – you should go to the doctor for further tests. Your doctor can then listen to your chest, and if necessary he or she may take a blood sample to rule out the possibility of pneumonia or pleurisy. "On the other hand, you can also examine yourself with the TytoHome telemedicine device" says Dr Silke Schmitt-Oggier. A santé24 doctor then analyses and evaluates the results.


Have you had a dry, aching cough since yesterday and don't know whether you should go to your family doctor, a pharmacy, or even the hospital? The BENECURA app from SWICA is there to help when you feel unwell or become ill. SWICA customers can use the SymptomCheck feature of the BENECURA app, which was developed by doctors, to obtain information easily, quickly and reliably and immediately receive a personal recommendation about what to do.

In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.