dry coughOne of the first steps in treating a cough is to identify if it is productive or dry. We discussed productive cough in an earlier post – the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. In this post, we learn more about dry cough. Dr Mehul Thakkar, a renowned pulmonologist practicing in Mumbai tells us more..

Dry cough is one where there is no phlegm or no sputum production. Most commonly you see a dry hacking cough which is seen in viral infections of the nose and throat. In which one has a continuous cough with a feeling of something being stuck in the throat. Read more about the different types of cough.

The other type of cough is what is called a barking cough or croup,this is mainly seen in cases of laryngitis (swelling or infection of the larynx).  The classic sign of cough due to this condition is pain in the throat and difficulty in breathing. Here are some tips to soothe a sore throat.

It can be caused due to the simplest of irritants

Dry cough may be caused due to a number of reasons, some of the common ones being a sore throat, inhaling an irritant like dust or smoke, asthma or an allergic reaction. Read more about asthma – symptoms, treatment.

There are other more serious conditions, like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), GERD (gastro oesophagal reflux disease) and in rare cases heart disease that could give rise to a dry cough. However, these are extremely rare occurrences. (What are COPD and GERD and could you be suffering from them?)

The right diagnosis is important

On visiting a doctor, he/she will most likely ask you about your symptoms and listen to the sound of your cough. He/she will then listen to your chest sounds to check for any congestion and check your throat for any infection or inflammation. In some cases you may need to undergo a chest X-ray in order for the doctor to make sure that there is no other underlying reason for the cough. 

Home remedies and OTC medication can provide relief

Though finding the root cause of the cough is key to treating it completely, certain home remedies and OTC medication can give some symptomatic relief. (Read: How to get instant relief from cough)

Steam inhalation moistens the airways and helps relieve a sore and irritated throat. Other remedies include using lozenges to soothe the throat and OTC cough syrups specifically formulated to treat a dry cough. (Want natural remedies to help with your cough?)

In cases where the cough is due to an allergy or infection, one may be prescribed and antibiotics and anti-histamines respectively to relieve the associated symptoms. If the patient’s condition worsens it may be necessary to use a nebulizer, which is a method to help the patient breath easily by dilating the bronchioles.

Pay attention to your cough – if untreated it can cause severe complications

A dry cough, if left untreated can cause a lot of problems.Therefore it is important that we know when to visit a doctor or when it is dangerous. Usually, when a cough lasts for longer than a week and over the counter medication do not help, it means you need a doctor. Here a person can develop complications due to the underlying conditions like inability to breathe, fainting, or even death.

Another complication is the physical nature of the cough itself. Sometimes the nature of the cough is so severe that it can cause vomiting,fractures specifically that of the ribs, muscle pain around the back and urinary or stool incontinence. Other uncommon problems include fainting or syncope and heart palpitations. 

Benadryl® DR Dry Cough Active Relief has the active ingredient ‘Dextromethorphan hydrobromide’ in a sugar-free, alcohol-free mentholated base which helps to relieve dry cough and soothes a dry, irritated throat. This new formulation exclusively targets dry cough without causing unwanted drowsiness

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  • http://www.bikchip.com Bikram

    Hmm.. very nice arcticle. helpful for me to solve my cough .

  • SALMAN

    Hi all,

    I have been struggling with dry cough for almost more than 10 years.

    I had used a lot of inhalers, anti-allergy medicine but nothing worked.

    Recently, I followed a home remedy and as of now, its really working greatly.

    Here are the simple steps of home remedy

    -Put 3-4 figs in one cup of milk (350ML) and heat it for 5-10 mins

    -Let the figs remain in milk overnight

    -in the morning, drink the same milk empty stomach and eat the figs which were soaked in milk over night

    It has relieved me greatly from the dry cough.

    Hopefully it continues…

    • Saulay

      I tried to understand your remedy. 5-10 minutes of heat will bring the milk to boil, right? Then leave the boiled milk with the figs overnight. Then drink it cool, right? Should I buy those preserved dry figs? Please clarify. Thanks.

  • Teresa

    OooKkk then.

  • Whors

    Where is India in all of this?

  • Tara

    Where are the home remedies??

    • Salman

      Hi Tara,

      I have been struggling with dry cough for almost more than 10 years.
      I had used a lot of inhalers, anti-allergy medicine but nothing worked.

      Recently, I followed a home remedy and as of now, its really working greatly.
      Here are the simple steps of home remedy

      -Put 3-4 figs in one cup of milk (350ML) and heat it for 5-10 mins
      -Let the figs remain in milk overnight
      -in the morning, drink the same milk empty stomach and eat the figs which were soaked in milk over night

      It has relieved me greatly from the dry cough.

      Hopefully it continues…

  • Tradz Mai

    Nothing but a devious promotion for a particular cough syrup by talking about home remedies etc