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Understanding Dry Cough, Causes, and Relief

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Understanding Dry Cough, Causes, and Relief

Pulmonology | by Dr. Raja Dhar | Published on 16/08/2023


Tired of unwanted and irritating dry coughs? Well, you aren't the only one, a lot of people experiencing the same problem go through the same feeling. A dry cough is one of the most common ailments that many of us experience once in a lifetime or have already experienced at some point. A dry cough is not like a productive cough that forms mucus. It leaves a constant feeling of tickle and scratchiness in the throat.

If you are anxious about a dry cough and it doesn’t let you sleep at night comfortably, then don’t worry. In this blog, you will find a solution to your problem. 

We will involve a comprehensive discussion on the causes, symptoms, and probable remedies for this condition. This blog offers you improved insights that you need to know and will also assist you to manage the constant urge to cough. 

It is important to know that a dry cough can be an indication of an underlying condition, hence, if it is not going away, then make sure to book your appointment with The Calcutta Medical Research Institute in Kolkata. They have the most experienced and highly-skilled professionals. Kindly note that the information given in this blog is entirely research-based and doesn’t interfere with the consultation of a doctor.

What is a dry cough?

A dry cough is different from a productive cough and doesn’t form mucus or phlegm. It is usually determined by the feeling of a tickle and scratchy sensation in the throat. If you aren’t aware of the causes, then there can be several factors like cold or flu infections, irritants like sand or dust, GERD, and some medications. If a dry cough is persistent and followed by other symptoms, it is better to get in touch with a healthcare expert for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

What are the symptoms of dry cough?

Dry cough is often determined by the following symptoms:

  • Persistent coughing that does not form phlegm or mucus 
  • The feeling of a tickling sensation in the throat 
  • You will experience the need to itch or clear your throat often 
  • You will experience hoarseness in your voice 
  • There are some triggers of dry cough such as strong odors, air, smoke, etc.
  • You will notice discomfort or soreness in your throat 
  • The cough is more strong at night, hence leading to sleep disturbance

You must know that a dry cough can be a sign of an underlying condition, hence you must not delay your appointment with a medical professional if it doesn’t go away.

What are dry cough causes?

Dry cough is caused by different factors and is often can be an indication of an underlying disease or condition. For your enhanced comprehension here are different dry cough causes: 

  • Viral infections like cold, flu, and other respiratory viruses aggravate dry cough 
  • Allergies such as dust mites, pollen, dust, etc. are the primary triggers of dry cough 
  • Asthma causes inflammation and airway narrowing. As a result, it triggers a cough which gets worse at night 
  • Medications such as ACE inhibitors used for blood pressure lead to constant coughing. 
  • Respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, or bronchitis can lead to dry cough. 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease causes dry cough by releasing stomach acid that flows back into the esophagus 
  • Covid-19 is another trigger for dry cough that is an outcome of coronavirus infection
  • The postnasal dip is another trigger for a dry cough 
  • Lung conditions such as interstitial lung illness lead to chronic coughing 
  • Occupation factors that involve exposure to irritants, dust, or chemicals cause a dry cough 
  • Underlying health conditions such as heart failure or lung cancer lead to coughing problems
  • Vocal cors strain also is among the main factors that trigger a dry cough

What is the diagnostic process for a dry cough?

To determine the cause of a dry cough, the doctor will often begin the process of diagnosis by asking about your symptoms, and clinical history. Additionally, the doctor will involve performing a physical evaluation. The doctor will order tests to confirm the diagnosis which includes: 

  • Imaging tests like an X-ray or CT scan are ordered for creating a picture of the chest’s inside so that the doctor can view and look for the issues 
  • Spirometry is ordered in which the doctor will ask you to breathe into a plastic device for checking your lung function. This test will allow the doctor to diagnose conditions like asthma
  • An endoscopy is ordered as the doctor can look for the issues inside the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. To begin the process, the doctor will use an endoscope, a long, thin tube with a camera that will be inserted into the mouth and down the throat.

What are the options for a dry cough treatment?

Dry cough treatment begins with treating underlying causes and varied triggers. Here are the treatment options for dry cough:

  • Medications like paracetamol to relieve discomfort are prescribed. Antiviral drugs help with breathing in certain cases. In situations like asthma, medications are given through an inhaler like beta-2 agonists and corticosteroids. There are other medications like H2-receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and antacids. 


  • Oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and lung transplantation in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are recommended as treatment options for dry cough. 


  • Lifestyle changes are recommended to treat GERD


  • Nasal sprays, nasal saline irrigation, and decongestants are prescribed.


  • Surgery, radiofrequency ablation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and palliative care might be required for the treatment of lung cancer

Home remedies for a dry cough

There are dry cough remedies that can help you with improving your symptoms. Here are these remedies:

  • Make sure to suck on throat lozenges like honey, menthol, and eucalyptus.
  • You must ensure staying hydrated, and make sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Take cough suppressants like dextromethorphan. 
  • You must try to sleep by elevating the bed. 
  • Take a hot shower as it will help in easing throat dryness and irritation.
  • Use honey, ginger, and black pepper. 
  • You can suck on cough drops.
  • You can involve using a humidifier.


There are many conditions that might lead to a dry cough. If your cough is dry, it might go away if you timely determine and treat the underlying condition. You can involve using home remedies as it will help in soothing dry coughs. Coughing can lead to lung inflammation and air passages, causing chest tightness. The symptoms must improve when the cough is cleared. There are rare cases when a dry cough might cause serious health issues. You must visit your healthcare expert if the cough is constant and unexplained.



Is dry cough a symptom of corona?

Yes, a dry cough is a symptom of corona 

Why do I have a dry cough at night?

Dry cough at night occurs due to certain conditions such as acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease.