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Dry Cough - causes & remedies

It is night time and suddenly you start coughing. You take a sip of water yet the symptoms persist a strange and unproductive cough with no wheezing or congestion, and no mucus. It is not letting you sleep however and is extremely bothersome with a persistent tickle in the throat - you may safely call this kind of cough a dry cough. Dry coughs will usually last a week or two and will generally clear up within three weeks of the first appearance of symptoms.


The causes of dry causes are varied: upper respiratory infections, diseases such as Bronchitis and Asthma, habits such as smoking and exposure to irritants such as cold air and ambient smoke. 

However, a dry cough can also be an indication of a more serious ailment. It can signal a case of cough-variant asthma. This type of cough will occur especially on exposure to irritants like ambient smoke or cold air. Other triggers are dust, stress, pollen, and a change of seasons. Allergies can also trigger dry coughs. So can Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can worsen with your body’s reaction to a particular food. 


Researchers have also found a link between sleep apnea and a chronic dry cough. Although not common, a weak heart can cause fluid to go back and cause a congestion in the lungs instantly producing a dry cough. Life threatening blood clots in the lungs can often have dry cough as a sudden sign. Most people with lung cancer will often have a persistent dry cough. 

Dry coughs that are part of a cold or an infection are contagious. Those resulting from other causes are not. In such cases, taking precautions such as frequent hand-washing and covering your mouth will prevent it from spreading the infection to others. 


The reason that dry cough will often worsen at night may be because of GERD, where stomach acid will often go back into the esophageal tract causing irritation and cough. Cold dry air often present in the night can also trigger coughing. Moreover, a cough resulting from a severe cold or a severe string of coughs brought on from some irritant can cause vomiting.

However, the above may not be a cause for concern. You’ll know you require an emergency visit to the doctor when any of the following symptoms persist:

  • 01

    A severe and intense cough

  • 02

    A cough that has blood

  • 03

    Associated chest pain or fever

  • 04

    Severe headache or ear pain

Otherwise, you can try these home remedies for less serious conditions of dry cough:

Oral demulcents:

Demulcents like a cough syrup that contains sugar and glycerol or warm water mixed with honey and lemon soothe the pharynx and relieve irritation.

Cough suppressants:

Cough drops and cough syrups will do a good job of suppressing the urge to cough.

Increased fluid intake

More fluids, especially water will keep the pharynx coated and reduce the tickle.

Saltwater gargle:

Gargling with salt water removes water from mucous membrane cells, reducing swelling and irritation.

No triggers:

Triggers such as cold and dry air, pollution, cigarette smoke, excessive talking or yelling exacerbate dry coughs resulting from asthma and therefore need to be avoided as far as possible.


But if the symptoms worsen or continue beyond eight weeks a visit to the doctor is a must. 

The portable Cool Mist Humidifier

helps you sleep better by purifying the air and adding the right level of moisture to your room shielding you from dry cough and dry skin problems. The ultrasonic humidifier comes with a soothing night light and an auto shut-off feature. Suitable for kids and adults alike.

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