How does Prednisone help for cough?

prednisone for cough
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mehvish Khan


Prednisone is a corticosteroid medication that belongs to the vast steroid class of drugs. While anti-tussive medications are the primary choice for cough treatment, prednisone may be prescribed for coughs associated with asthma and COPD. It’s typically not prescribed for treating a regular cough. Instead, it’s specifically prescribed for asthma, bronchitis, and other severe respiratory conditions.

The dose, dosage form, and frequency change according to age, nature, and persistence of cough. It’s not an over-the-counter medication and requires a prescription according to a medical condition, age, and body weight. 

How does Prednisone help a cough go away?

Prednisone belongs to the corticosteroid class of medication and is often prescribed for long-term consistent cough treatment.
“It treats the cough by calming the body’s immune system towards the infection or sore throat, which eventually leads to the lowering of inflammation and redness around the area,

says Dr.Richard Honekar

Cough can be due to several reasons, including asthma, sore throat, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and diet. Usually, home remedies are preferred for the relief of symptoms. Some of the commonly used home remedies are used and considered safe for effective relief. 

  • Gargling with lukewarm water 
  • Over-the-counter lozenges 
  • Mint teas 
  • Honey and water 

However, not every cough can be treated with natural and home remedies, and patients need medication for the complete treatment of cough. Antitussive (cough relief) medications are prescribed for the cough that doesn’t go away and irritates the gastrointestinal tract.  Some of the anti-tussive agents prescribed for different types of cough can be : 

  • Dextromethorphan
  • Hydrocodone
  • Benzonatate
  • Noscapine
  • Pipazethate
  • Isoaminile

Some of the above-mentioned are available over the counter, while most require a prescription for effective treatment. 

Prednisone is considered the last choice of drug for the cough only in case of a persistent cough that irritates and can not be cured by anti-tussive agents.

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What is the Dose of Prednisone for cough? 

The usual prescription prednisone dose for a cough is 20 to 40 milligrams daily. However, it highly depends on the factors including nature, severity, and age of patient taking the prescription of prednisone,

says Dr Richard Honekar

It is also important to note that healthcare providers only prescribe prednisone in case of cough due to asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the side effects of a respiratory illness. If prescribed, other than these reasons, steroids can impact one’s health with severe side effects. 

Can Prednisone be used for children with a persistent cough?

Yes, Prednisone can be prescribed to children in case of severe persistent cough due to medical conditions like asthma or COPD. According to healthcare experts 

Prednisone can only be prescribed to children for a short term with frequent dosing as per the age and severity of presenting medical condition,”

says Dr Mehwish Khan

How long is the treatment with Prednisone for cough?

The treatment period with prednisone depends on the severity of the cough and an individual response to that medication. In usual cases, prednisone treatment lasts 5-10 days and is usually prescribed to address acute inflammation related to conditions such as bronchitis or asthma exacerbations.

Long story short, prednisone works as quickly as 7-10 days for effective treatment of cough. 

Can Prednisone be taken with other medications for cough?

Prednisone can only be taken with other medications if consulted by your healthcare provider first. It’s important to discuss your medical condition and medication history with your healthcare provider and pharmacist to avoid drug-related interactions. Some of the medication classes that should be avoided with prednisone are as follows : 

  1. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs NSAIDs (Examples: ibuprofen, naproxen)
  2. Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners) Examples: warfarin, heparin
  3. Antiplatelet Drugs (Examples: aspirin, clopidogrel)
  4. Diuretics (examples :furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide)
  5. Antidiabetic Drugs(Examples: insulin, metformin)
  6. Antifungal Medications(Examples: ketoconazole, fluconazole)
  7. Antibiotics (Examples: rifampin, erythromycin)
  8. Antivirals (Examples: ritonavir, indinavir)
You can now get a prescription for Prednisone per the severity of your medical condition!

When should I see a doctor?

Cough, if persistent and troublesome, should not be left untreated. Anti-tussive agents will be prescribed initially for the management of cough. However, if the cough persists, it’s important to get a consultation from your healthcare provider for timely diagnosis and treatment. Prednisone works effectively when all the other medications for cough don’t treat and work for a persistent cough. It’s not an over-the-counter antibiotic and requires a personalized prescription for effective treatment. 

FAQs about Prednisone for cough

Is it OK to stop prednisone after 2 days?

It’s not safe for you to stop the prednisone dose right after 2 days of starting the dose. This is because prednisone is a steroid, and it has withdrawal side effects, including severe headaches, body aches, and weakness. It’s good to complete the course as prescribed. It’s beneficial to discuss 

Can Prednisone be used for all types of coughs?

No, Prednisone can not be used for all coughs, as not all coughs are severe, have flare-ups, or are persistent. Prednisone can only be used and is prescribed for coughs that are from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or a flare-up of these conditions. 

How quickly can I expect relief from my cough after starting Prednisone?

Prednisone starts showing its effect in 2-4 days of starting the initial dose of prednisone. It also depends on the dosage and frequency of medication you are taking. Usually, it is prescribed for 1-month course, after which the dose will start to decrease and go to zero after complete treatment. 

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • De Blasio, Francesco, et al. “Cough management: a practical approach.” Cough 7 (2011): 1-12.
  • Dicpinigaitis, Peter V. “Chronic cough due to asthma: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.” Chest 129.1 (2006): 75S-79S.
  • Lee, Seung-Eun, et al. “Inhaled corticosteroids and placebo treatment effects in adult patients with cough: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research 11 (2019): e74.
  • Raeessi, Mohammad Ali, et al. “” Persistent post-infectious cough” is better treated by which one? Prednisolone, Honey, Coffee, or Honey plus coffee: A meta-analysis.” (2014).

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