Dry Cough : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

 What is dry cough?

     A cough is a reflex action that clears your airway of irritants and mucus. There are two types of cough: productive and nonproductive. A productive cough produces phlegm or mucus, clearing it from the lungs. A nonproductive cough, also known as a dry cough, doesn’t produce phlegm or mucus.

Many things — from allergies to acid reflux — can cause a dry cough. In some cases, there’s no obvious cause.

Regardless of the cause, an ongoing dry cough can seriously impact your day-to-day life, especially if it’s worse at night.

Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes of a dry cough and ways to find relief.

Dry Cough Causes :

     a viral illness, such as a cold or influenza (the flu), or COVID-19 the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 – the novel coronavirus; or

a post-viral, or post-infective, cough (cough that persists for weeks after a viral illness).

However, a dry cough may be a result of other problems, such as:


gastro-oesophageal reflux;


allergic rhinitis (hay fever) due to inhaling substances you are allergic to, such as pollen, dust or pet dander;

post-nasal drip (the drainage of mucus secretions from the nose or sinuses down the back of the throat – also known as upper airway cough syndrome);

laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx, also known as the voice box);

whooping cough;

obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring;

habit cough (a cough that is only present in the daytime and not caused by illness – it most often affects school-aged children);

an inhaled foreign body (e.g. food or other objects accidentally being inhaled – usually in babies and small children);

certain types of lung disease known as interstitial lung disease; or

a side effect from a medicine (for example, cough is a possible side effect of most ACE inhibitors – often prescribed for high blood pressure).

Other, less common, causes of a dry cough include:

heart failure;

pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs); or

lung cancer.

A dry cough can be aggravated by:

breathing cold, dry air;

air pollution;

inhaled irritants such as dust or smoke;

exposure to tobacco smoke;

excessive use of your voice; or

a change in temperature.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Acute Cough?

Acute coughs are divided into infectious and noninfectious causes. Acute cough signs and symptoms that point to an infection include:



Body aches

Sore throat




Sinus pressure

Runny nose

Night sweats

Postnasal drip

Sputum, or phlegm, sometimes indicates an infection is present, but it is also seen in noninfectious causes. Yellow-green mucus also may indicate an infection.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Chronic (Persistent) Cough?

Signs and symptoms of a chronic or persistent cough point to noninfectious causes including;

Coughs occur when a person is exposed to certain chemicals or irritants in the environment.

Coughs with wheezing.

Coughs routinely worsen when a person goes to certain locations or does certain activities.

Coughs that improve with inhalers or allergy medications.

Dry cough treatment :

     The treatment for dry cough depends on the underlying cause that is triggering it.

Antihistamines: For an allergy-driven cough, your doctor may prescribe anti-histamines Antibiotics: In case of a bacterial infection leading to your cough, he may suggest antibiotics.

Inhalers: When asthma is the reason behind your cough, you may need to inhale corticosteroids or bronchodilators. Corticosteroids work by bringing down swelling and inflammation of your airways while bronchodilators relax the muscles of your respiratory tract and widen them.

Steam inhalation: This can be particularly helpful if the reason behind your dry cough is a sinus infection or an allergic reaction. Steam inhalation moistens the airways and relieves a sore throat.

OTC cough syrups: They soothe your throat and offer symptomatic relief. In fact, they are specially formulated to treat dry cough.

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