Coughs are usually caused by virus infections. They can be eased by inhaling steam from Vick, menthol crystals or Karvol added to very hot water. A dry cough may be helped by a cough suppressant from a chemist. Soothing lozenges may help. A troublesome night-time cough can be helped by hot drinks, by preparing a Thermos flask at bedtime. Cigarette smoke in the house will make a cough worse. If a cough persists or produces blood, or is associated with chest pain or shortness of breath, seek medical advice.