Smoke from fire is dangerous not just because of the fire itself, but because of the damage the smoke can do to a person's lungs. Those who are exposed to smoke from a fire can develop asthma and sinus problems. A cough can be a danger sign that the cilia, little oars in the respiratory tract, sinuses and lungs, are bogged down with foreign material and unable to move enough to do their job.
One way to get the cilia moving again so they can help get all the foreign matter out of the respiratory tract, sinuses and lungs is to drink hot liquids. Hot liquids stimulate the cilia to move and this in turn can help get the mucus moving so a person can swallow it or cough it up. This removes the mucus containing the contaminants from the person's respiratory system, where it can do further damage.
If you have smoke-damaged lungs, it's important not to further expose yourself to anything that might exacerbate your condition, such as allergens, more smoke or polluted air. You can protect your lungs and respiratory tract by wearing a wet mask and breathing through it when you are outdoors. Keep in mind, however, that the dust masks people wear during allergy season are designed to keep out large particles, not tiny particles like smoke, so such masks won't help protect your respiratory system from smoke.
Saline Nasal Spray
Saline nasal spray can help keep the inside lining of your nose moist and the cilia moving so they can help expel any foreign matter. It can also soothe the inside of the nose, which may be raw from smoke inhalation.
If you have an unproductive cough from smoke inhalation, taking a cough syrup such as Robitussin can help the cough become more productive. Avoid cough syrups that have codeine, however, because they can slow down the movement of the cilia, making it difficult to expel foreign matter that is in the lungs due to inhaled smoke.
Avoid taking antihistamines for respiratory symptoms related to smoke inhalation because they have a tendency to dry out the nasal passages. Also, respiratory problems associated with smoke inhalation are not necessarily from allergies but rather from inflammation. Taking decongestants such as Sudafed can help, but antihistamines may increase discomfort.