How to Stop Coughing from Allergies?

What is an allergy cough?

A cough provoked by allergies is caused by a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects 262 million people worldwide, according to the WHO.1 Allergens enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin and cause abnormal responses from the immune system. The body identifies the allergen as a harmful antigen and thus overreacts by releasing antibodies to attack the antigen in response to the minor exposure causing tissue damage and serious disease.2

Causes of an allergy cough

Common substances that cause allergy coughs include:4

  • Dust mites 
  • Grass
  • Tree Pollen 
  • Animal dander
  • Flares of hair or skin
  • Food (shellfish, eggs, nuts, fruits, cow’s milk etc)
  • Medication
  • Insects
  • Latex
  • Household chemicals 
  • Mould

This hypersensitive reaction from the immune system to harmless substances can cause reactions, such as asthmatic symptoms (allergic cough, breathlessness, wheezing), skin allergies (itching, hives, eczema, contact dermatitis), and in extreme cases anaphylaxis allergic rhinitis.3

Symptoms of an allergy cough

Allergy-related coughs are thought to be dry, and if it is chronic, coughing can last up to 3 weeks.

Other symptoms of allergy cough include wheezing, sneezing, stuffy nose, and headache. There are symptoms more general to allergies, such as fatigue, fever, skin rashes, and nausea.

What happens in the respiratory system during allergy cough?

Allergens cause an inflammation in your lungs which, if not addressed, can result in severe damage to both your lungs and your lung capacity.3


Home remedies

Warm water

If you come into contact with an allergen, rinsing your skin with warm water is believed to cleanse the skin and reduce skin irritation.6


Due to its use as traditional medicine, honey’s medicinal benefits have also garnered a significant amount of interest in recent years. It can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including coughs, asthma, and many other disorders.7


Ginger has been proven in a number of studies to inhibit the synthesis of particular cytokines, which are responsible for the activation of mast cells. This, in turn, leads to the prevention and reduction of the symptoms of allergies.8 

Marshmallow roots

The marshmallow root extract significantly decreased the itching and irritation of the skin. Mucous membranes that have been inflamed can be soothed by using marshmallow roots.9

Steam therapy

Inhaling steam is one of the best ways to treat nasal blockage. It can reduce symptoms such as sneezing, itchiness, face pain, postnasal drip, and headache.10

Humidifier or air purifiers

Using an air purifier filter can help reduce the pollution in indoor air, which in turn can help manage allergic coughing. Pollen, fungal spores, house dust mites, and other allergens in the air can be removed by air purifiers.11

Nasal rinse

Rinsing the nasal passages can help eliminate pollen, dust, and other debris, and it can also assist in breaking up thick mucus.12



Antihistamines are a type of medication that is utilised in the treatment of allergic reactions. They are effective in relieving the itching caused by the production of histamine and may be found at most drug stores. Most antihistamines are sold over the counter, but certain types can only be purchased with a doctor's prescription. Antihistamines can be divided into two groups: non-drowsy and drowsy antihistamines.13


Decongestants are a type of medication that can relieve a stuffy or blocked nose temporarily. It reduces symptoms of hay fever and sinusitis. They are effective because they reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose, which in turn helps to expand your airways.14


Steroids have a significant role in the treatment of allergic coughs and treat symptoms of hay fever.  They are useful in decreasing nasal congestion and inflammation, as well stopping runny noses and sneezing.15 

Saline nasal spray

When the nose and sinuses dry up or mucus builds up, cleaning the nose and hydrating the lining helps. Saline nasal sprays can be used to moisten nasal passages.16

Is allergy cough contagious?

In contrast to common colds, which are caused by viruses and can be passed from person to person by sneezing, coughing, and other forms of close contact. Since allergy coughs result from the immune system's response to normally harmless substances in the environment, they are not contagious.17 


How to identify the allergen?

If you have an allergy you may be referred for these allergy tests:18

  • Skin Prick Test: The most common allergy testing method is the skin prick test. It consists of placing a drop of a liquid onto your forearm that includes a material that you could be allergic to. If you have an allergy to the liquid, you will get a red, itchy bump in 15 minutes.
  • Blood tests: This option can be used to identify common allergies alongside skin prick tests. A blood sample will be drawn and tested for antibodies made by your immune system in reaction to an allergen.
  • Patch tests: These test for contact dermatitis, which can be caused by an allergen. A small quantity of the allergen is placed on special metal discs, which are then adhered to your skin for 48 hours while your reaction is monitored.
  • Elimination diet: If you have reason to think that you have a food allergy, your doctor may recommend that you abstain from eating a certain type of food in order to determine whether or not your symptoms improve.
  • Challenge testing: Food challenge tests are sometimes used to identify food allergies. During the test, you will be given the food to which you believe you have an allergy in progressively increasing amounts so that the doctors monitoring you can observe how you respond. This is the most accurate approach to identifying food allergies; however, it is riskier than other testing methods since it might result in a severe reaction.
  • Allergy testing kits: Commercial allergy-testing kits aren't recommended. They are often thought of as poor quality and are widely considered unreliable. 

Preventive steps

The easiest way to prevent an allergic response is to avoid the allergen, but this isn't always easy. However, there are ways you can reduce your chances of having an allergic reaction.

Dust mites, which are microscopic creatures that may be found in dust, are one of the most common triggers of allergic reactions. You can reduce the number of dust mites in your house by cleaning regularly.

If you are unable to remove a pet from the home permanently, you might want to consider the following alternatives: cleaning pets at least once per week, increasing ventilation by opening windows, or using fans and air conditioning.

Some people can have an allergic reaction to the tiny bits of mould that are released into the air. You can help stop this by keeping your home well ventilated and dry.

You should be able to avoid an allergic reaction if you take the time to thoroughly examine the product label of a food item and look at the list of components. 

Pollen allergies are caused by pollen released into the air by trees and grasses. You may help keep your hay fever under control by avoiding grassy areas, wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes and keeping windows and doors closed.

If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), make sure you always have two adrenaline auto-injectors with you. A MedicAlert or Medi-Tag wristband can alert people to your allergy in an emergency.19

When to see a doctor

If you believe that you have an allergy, you should consult a doctor about your symptoms, including when they appear, how frequently, and what is causing them.18


Although allergy coughs can be very bothersome and unpleasant, you can control your symptoms if you speak with your doctor and use preventative measures to avoid your allergies. 


  1. World Health Organization. Asthma [Internet]. WHO. 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 7]. Available from:
  2. Lacombe S. | British Society for Immunology [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  3. Aldakheel FM. Allergic Diseases: A Comprehensive Review on Risk Factors, Immunological Mechanisms, Link with COVID-19, Potential Treatments, and Role of Allergen Bioinformatics. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021 Nov 18;18(22):12105.
  4. NHS Choices. Overview - Allergies [Internet]. NHS. 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  5. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergy Symptoms | [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  6. NHS Choices. Treatment - Allergies [Internet]. NHS. 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  7. Aw Yong PY, Islam F, Harith HH, Israf DA, Tan JW, Tham CL. The Potential use of Honey as a Remedy for Allergic Diseases: A Mini Review. Frontiers in Pharmacology [Internet]. 2021 Jan 26 [cited 2022 Jul 8];11:599080. Available from:
  8. Kawamoto Y, Ueno Y, Nakahashi E, Obayashi M, Sugihara K, Qiao S, et al. Prevention of allergic rhinitis by ginger and the molecular basis of immunosuppression by 6-gingerol through T cell inactivation. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry [Internet]. 2016 Jan [cited 2022 Jul 8];27:112–22. Available from:
  9. Bonaterra GA, Bronischewski K, Hunold P, Schwarzbach H, Heinrich Ennio-U, Fink C, et al. Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidative Effects of Phytohustil® and Root Extract of Althaea officinalis L. on Macrophages in vitro. Frontiers in Pharmacology [Internet]. 2020 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Jul 8];11. Available from:
  10. Vathanophas V, Pattamakajonpong P, Assanasen P, Suwanwech T. Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology The effect of steam inhalation on nasal obstruction in patients with allergic rhinitis [Internet]. 2021 Dec [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  11. Park KH, Sim DW, Lee SC, Moon S, Choe E, Shin H, et al. Effects of Air Purifiers on Patients with Allergic Rhinitis: a Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Study. Yonsei Medical Journal [Internet]. 2020 Aug 1 [cited 2022 Jul 8];61(8):689–97. Available from:
  12. Commissioner O of the. Is Rinsing Your Sinuses With Neti Pots Safe? FDA [Internet]. 2019 Feb 9 [cited 2022 Jul 8]; Available from:
  13. NHS Choices. Antihistamines [Internet]. NHS. 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  14. NHS. Decongestants [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  15. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Over-the-Counter Allergy Nasal Spray Triamcinolone | AAAAI [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  16. Papsin B, Mctavish A. Saline nasal irrigation Its role as an adjunct treatment. Canadian Family Physician • Le Médecin de famille canadien  [Internet]. 2003 [cited 2022 Jul 8];49. Available from:
  17. MayoClinic. Is it an allergy or the common cold? [Internet]. Mayo Clinic Health System. 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  18. NHS Choices. Diagnosis - Allergies [Internet]. NHS. 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  19. NHS Choices. Prevention - Allergies [Internet]. NHS. 2018 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Hana Hailu

Master's degree, Brain Science, University of Glasgow

Hana Hailu is an accomplished academic with a strong foundation in the field of brain science and pharmacology. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Brain Science from the prestigious University of Glasgow (2021-2022). Prior to this, Hana earned her Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Applied Pharmacology from Queen Margaret University, where she studied from September 2017 to September 2021. With her deep knowledge and dedication, Hana is poised to make significant contributions to the world of neuroscience and pharmacology.

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