Coughs are basically divided into two types – dry cough and wet cough. Dry cough is one where there is no phlegm or no sputum production. In wet cough, the person expels a lot of phlegm (or sputum), because of problems arising from the lungs like bronchitis, pneumonia,asthma or some rare uncommon disorders like lung cancer or GERD as well.
Sometimes, people with a dry cough will feel the presence of a lump in the throat; others may feel a tickling sensation and cough to get rid of it, but find no relief. It is usually seen in the case of allergies, those exposed to smoke or other irritants, or those with mild sinusitis and viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. Here’s what you should about pollution and cough.
Dry cough may be caused due to a number of reasons, some of the common ones being -
There are other more serious conditions that could give rise to a dry cough, however, these are extremely rare occurrences like -
Here are top 9 causes of cough you should know.
- A sore throat
- Inhaling an irritant like dust or smoke
- An allergic reaction
Dry cough can be of two or three types namely -
Dry hacking cough -- Most commonly you see a dry hacking cough which is seen in viral infections of the nose and throat. In which you get a continuous cough with a feeling of something being stuck in the throat. You should take cough syrup depending on the type of cough.
Barking cough or croup -- The other type of cough is what is called a barking cough or croup, which is mainly seen in laryngitis. (Swelling or infection of the larynx). When the patient coughs, there is pain in the throat and difficulty in breathing. Here are 5 reasons you should treat your cough right now.
Whooping cough -- The third type of dry cough would be a whooping cough, caused by bacteria. This is a very uncommon occurrence nowadays because of the presence of vaccine programmes run by the government of India. This condition is usually seen only in children. It is a cough where the patient coughs continuously, after which there is a characteristic whoop sound and strong intake of a breath. Here's why we cough.
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. Here are 10 facts about seasonal cold and cough.
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 cough. Read about things that aggravate your cough.
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. If your cough is accompanied by sore throat, here are foods you should include in your diet for sore throat.
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. Did you know what’s in a cough syrup?
In cases where the cough is due to an allergy or infection, one may be prescribed antibiotics for cough 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. Here’s all you need to know about medications for cough and cold.
Here are natural remedies for cough to not only keep a cough and cold at bay but also help relieve the symptoms.
Apart from these, hing or asafoetida, jeera, mint leaves, tulsi leaves and aloe vera are also effective in providing relief from cough.
Read about how to treat cough and cold during pregnancy?
- Drink Warm Liquids
- Throat Lozenges
- Use Vaporubs
- Sleep With the Head Elevated
- Turmeric Remedies
- Honey Remedies
- Ginger Remedies
- Garlic Remedies
- Jaggery Remedies
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. Read about how can diabetics get rid of cough.
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.
Here are some simple and easy ways to stay away from a cough -
In addition to this, there are few things you should avoid when you’re suffering from a cough. This include -
- If you are suffering from cough, cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing
- Always wash hands thoroughly with water and soap
Also follow these 10 tips to reduce coughing bouts at night.
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- Avoid eating cold foods
- Avoid overeating at night
- Avoid sleeping flat on the back
- Avoid eating fried foods
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid caffeinated beverages
- Avoid over-exertion
Dr Mehul Thakkar,
pulmonologist, practising in Mumbai.