A cough after coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery

When you recover from coronavirus, you might have a cough that continues. This can lead to irritation and inflammation, which could make your cough worse.

You can gain some control over your cough to stop it from 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. Try to practise this often.

If you notice your breathing has become 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 them where possible. Examples are spicy foods, air-conditioning, smoky environments, dust or 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 more concerned about you, rather than finding 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 recovery, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you. Your discharge letter should have their contact information.

Physiotherapy, phone 020 7188 5082 or 020 7188 5089

Occupational therapy department at St Thomas' Hospital, phone 020 7188 4180

Occupational therapy department at Guy's Hospital, phone 020 7188 4185

Nutrition and dietetics department, phone 020 7188 4128

Speech and language therapy department at St Thomas' Hospital, phone 020 7188 6246

Speech and language therapy department at Guy's Hospital, phone 020 7188 6233

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