A wet cough is also called a productive cough because each cough produces mucus from the respiratory tract. Wet coughs are often seen in people who have asthma, bronchitis or other conditions that cause mucus and other fluids to settle in their lungs. A wet cough can be the sign of a cold that will run its course, or an infection that requires medication. Lots of fluids, over-the-counter cough medicines and moisture in the air can all be used to treat a wet cough.
Drinking large quantities of fluids can help make your wet cough more productive, explains the Mayo Clinic. Water and other liquids helps make the mucus and other secretions thinner, so you can bring them up more easily when you cough. The more fluids consumed, the better. A warm cup of tea may alleviate the pain of a sore throat that accompanies your wet cough, but water also does the job just as well.
People suffering from a wet cough for more than a few days may want to ask their doctors about taking an expectorant cough medicine. An expectorant, like fluids, helps to get mucus and other secretions out of the respiratory tract with each cough. However, cough medicines are not for everyone: The FDA recommends that children under the age of 2 should not use cough syrups because of possible side effects. You may confer with your doctor to determine whether a nasal decongestant or saline drops can help to limit mucus production.
If your cough has not diminished within two weeks, or if you develop a fever, you may require other medications as well. A wet cough can be a sign of a sinus or lung infection that is treated with antibiotics.
Breathing in moist air can treat several kinds of coughs, include a wet cough. The moisture that a humidifier produces, for example, softens the mucus in your throat for more productive coughs. Dartmouth Medical School's Child Health Guide suggests hanging a wet towel in your room or creating steam with the shower as alternatives if you do not have a humidifier.