A cough after coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery

As you recover from coronavirus (COVID-19), you might still have a cough. This can lead to irritation and inflammation, which could make your cough worse.

You can gain some control over your cough to stop it getting worse. Try the exercises below to help you.

Managing a cough

Try to breathe in deep into your stomach. If you put your hand on your stomach, you should see your hand rise and fall as you breathe. It is a good idea to practise this regularly.

If your breathing becomes shallow and rapid, use this technique to bring your breath back to your stomach. This is important because rapid breathing can make your cough worse.

Try to work out if there is anything that causes your cough or makes it worse, and avoid this where possible. Examples are:

  • spicy foods
  • air conditioning
  • smoky environments
  • dust
  • talking a lot on the phone

It is important to stay hydrated and regularly sip water or other drinks that do not contain caffeine.

The urge to cough

When you first notice the urge to cough, try these techniques.

  • Sip water.
  • Suck boiled sweets (but not menthol sweets).
  • Close your mouth and swallow.
  • Breathe in and out through your nose.
  • Try pursed-lips breathing.


  • Try to stay calm and continue your usual physical, work and social activities and routines.
  • If you focus on something you enjoy, this can distract you from the need to cough. 
  • Most people will be concerned about you rather than find your cough troublesome.

Resource number: 5122/VER1
Last reviewed: January 2021
Next review date: December 2023

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about your coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you. Your discharge letter (the letter that you get when you leave hospital) should have their contact details.

Phone: 020 7188 5082 or 020 7188 5089

Occupational therapy department 
St Thomas' Hospital, phone: 020 7188 4180
Guy's Hospital, phone: 020 7188 4185

Nutrition and dietetics department 
Phone: 020 7188 4128

Speech and language therapy department 
St Thomas' Hospital, phone: 020 7188 6246 
Guy's Hospital, phone: 020 7188 6233

pals icon

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Is this health information page useful?