The best way to deal with a cough is to use the right strategy for the type of cough (wet/productive or dry/hacking) and the time (night or day).
Night coughs are problematic because you can’t sleep, and sleep is often important for recovery. Set your bedroom up for cough prevention by adding a few pillows and a vaporizer. Elevating your head allows mucus to drain rather than go down your throat and initiate coughing. Vaporizers or humidifiers moisten your airways, which soothes a dry cough. It also thins mucus, making it easier to get rid of.
Before bedtime you could try gargling with warm salt water to loosen thick mucus and calm your irritated throat. Use ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Gargle then spit. You can also try a teaspoon or two of honey, alone or in tea, to soothe your throat.
Nighttime cough medicine that you can get over the counter usually contains an antihistamine that will make you drowsy. That may help you to sleep when you have a cough.
Daytime coughs can also be treated with a vaporizer. It is important to stay hydrated, so drink lots of water, or chicken soup. Warm beverages such as tea (perhaps with honey?) also soothe the throat.
Cough drops do help, but so does any hard candy to suck on. This increases saliva flow and helps prevent a dry cough. An over-the-counter cough suppressant with dextromethorphan can also block the reflex that causes a dry cough.
Wet or productive coughs are bringing up mucus. To aid this process, over-the-counter expectorants containing guaifenesin will help by thinning the mucus and making it easier to bring up.
However you treat your cough, be sure to see your healthcare provider if you are wheezing or sort of breath, or if you also have a fever or pain in your chest.