Cough is a sign that something in the upper respiratory system is irritating it, such as mucus, phlegm, outside particles or inflammation. It’s a natural defence mechanism for the lungs, throat, or nasal passages. Mainly, there are two types of cough productive and non-productive. A productive cough or wet cough produces phlegm and mucus clearing it from the lungs. Non-productive cough also known as dry cough doesn't produce phlegm or mucus.

What is a Dry Cough?

A sudden, forceful hacking sound releases to air and clear irritation in the throat or airway. Dry or unproductive cough doesn't produce mucus. A dry cough can be caused by a tickling feeling in the throat. Dry coughs can happen as a result of a cold or flu. Chronic dry coughs can also be caused by other illnesses such as GERD, heart failure, and lung cancer.

Causes of dry cough

Chronic dry coughs are usually caused by irritation from cigarette smoke, environmental irritants, allergies, postnasal drip, or asthma. A dry, hacking cough can also be caused by a number of chronic lung conditions.

There are various types of Cough that can cause a viral infection in your throat.

Some of the common causes of dry cough are listed below:


Asthma It's a condition in which the airways swell and becomes narrowed. There's a type of asthma called cough variant asthma that includes chronic dry cough as its main symptoms.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease

It is a type of acid reflux that lasts for a long time. It occurs when stomach acid runs back up into the oesophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach on a regular basis. Stomach acid might irritate your oesophagus, causing your cough reflex to be triggered.


COVID-19 It's a respiratory disease caused due to SARS-CoV-2. A person may experience chest pain and difficulties breathing over time.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

It's a condition in which scar tissue forms inside the lungs of a person. Breathing in the air becomes increasingly difficult as the scar tissue grows. The term idiopathic refers to the fact that doctors are unsure of the actual source of the ailment.

Upper respiratory infections

It can cause acute coughing due to common colds and flu. The cough starts as productive i.e. wet cough then it becomes dry as a person recovers from the infections.

Lung Cancer

Sometimes chronic and dry cough can be a symptom of lung cancer.

Other conditions that may cause dry cough are:

Diagnosis of Dry Cough

  • On the first visit with the doctor, they will conduct a physical examination to determine the cause of the cough. It will involve listening to the chest sounds for congestion and inspecting the throat for infection or irritation. He might also recommend a few imaging tests to rule out the major underlying issues.
  • Imaging tests:X-rays, CT scans, and bronchoscopies are used to examine for infections and the condition of the windpipe and airways.
  • Spirometry:The patient will be needed to breathe into a plastic instrument throughout this test. The goal is to assess lung function and diagnose diseases such as asthma.

Treatment for Dry Cough

Dry cough might be difficult to treat. Cough irritates the airways once they've become extremely sensitive, creating a vicious cycle. However, the doctor will prescribe you a range of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments that can assist relieve your cough.
There are 2 types of OTC cough medications: Cough suppressants and cough expectorants.

Cough suppressants

Helps in blocking the cough reflex. Mainly, it is helpful for dry coughs.


It is helpful for wet coughs. This works by thinning the mucus in the airway.


It is an OTC medication that helps in treating congestion in the nose and sinuses.

If over-the-counter cough treatments don't work, contact the doctor. A doctor may give the following medications, depending on the underlying ailment that is producing the cough:

  • Bronchitis
  • Oral antihistamine
  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Acid blockers

Home Remedies for a dry cough


When you have a dry cough, liquids are important, especially during the cold, dry months of the year. They keep the throat moist, which might assist to relieve scratchiness.


Honey has anti-inflammatory qualities that can aid to relieve throat discomfort. It can also aid in the breakdown of mucus and the relief of sore throats.

Saltwater gargle

For every 8 ounces of water, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Warm water is preferable to cold water for a sore throat because the warmth soothes the throat better. However, if you prefer cold water, it will not affect the efficiency of the treatment.


Many herbs contain anti-inflammatory qualities that may decrease the rate of throat swelling. Herbs are also high in antioxidants, which can help the immune system function better.

Steam Inhalation

Most people are familiar with the home remedy of inhaling steam. Warm steam can relieve throat pain, moisten dry and irritated nasal passages, and lessen the severity of a cough caused by a moderate infection or allergies.


Gargling with saltwater is frequently recommended by healthcare providers to relieve a painful throat caused by the common cold. Saltwater pulls moisture away from the painful area to assist in minimising swelling and discomfort

When to see a doctor?

People who have dry coughs that get worse, don't go away, or cause them to cough up blood or green mucus should seek medical attention. It's also important to contact a doctor if a dry cough is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Feeling of something being stuck in the throat
  • Breathing problems or shortness of breath
  • Swallowing difficulties

Make an appointment just in few minutes - Call Us Now

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is only dry cough a symptom of coronavirus?

Most people with COVID-19 may have a dry cough and pain in the chest.

2. How do I stop a dry cough?

Mainly, dry coughs are treated at home with OTC medications such as cough suppressants and throat lozenges. Also, there are various home remedies that will help in healing the dry cough such as humidifier, saltwater and drinking warm wate

3. What are the symptoms of dry cough?

Some of the common symptoms of a dry cough are tickling sensation, sore throat, trouble swallowing, runny nose and coughing at night.

4. Is lemon good for dry cough?

Lemon is a great home remedy for dry cough as it has anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing irritation in the throat and lungs.

5. How do I know if my cough is serious?

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, fever and coughing up blood you should visit a doctor immediately.

6. What triggers dry cough?

Chronic dry cough is mainly caused due to irritation from cigarette smoke, environmental irritants and asthma. Some of the other chronic lung diseases also cause dry cough.

7. When should you get a dry cough checked?

If you had a cough for more than 8 days talk to your doctor before it gets worse.