What is a dry cough?
dry coughs and tickly coughs are known as non-productive coughs,
as distinct from chesty coughs where mucus is produced.
dry cough is most often the result of infection by cold and flu
viruses. It can also be triggered by atmospheric pollutants (such as
cigarette smoke) irritating your throat. In most of these situations,
dry coughs occur because the back of your throat (or pharynx) becomes
irritated or inflamed, but may also arise from deeper in the chest.
Any cough can be a nuisance and this is particularly so if sleep is
disturbed. A vicious cycle can develop - if one is tired, recovery from
any infection or illness can take longer.
Common causes of dry coughs
common causes of dry coughs are as follows:
infections we know as
cold and flu.
These coughs may occur at the start of the illness or more likely,
appear towards the middle or the end of the infection, and may linger
long after other symptoms have disappeared
- Allergies can
also lead to a dry cough. Hayfever,
an allergy to grass and tree pollen, causes irritation to the
eyes and nose and when the throat is affected, a cough results. If you
are unsure about whether or not your dry cough is hayfever-related, you
could try taking our quick
test to find out.
Sensitivity to other particles such as animal fur, known as allergic
rhinitis, can also lead to the same symptom
irritate the back of the throat causing a cough. This is the situation
seen when non-smokers enter a smoky room
now accepted as a cause of dry coughs. What happens is that the acidic
contents of the stomach travels upwards to the back of the throat.
Minute amounts of acid may then enter the upper respiratory tract,
causing inflammation and coughing. This is more likely when one is
lying down flat. Acid reflux is a prominent element of GORD or GERD
(Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease).
rhinitis (hay fever) due to
inhaling substances you are allergic to, such as pollen, dust or pet
drip (the drainage of mucus
secretions from the nose or sinuses down the back of the throat);
(inflammation of the larynx,
also known as the voice box);
- whooping cough;
sleep apnoea and snoring;
- habit cough (a
cough that is only present
in the daytime and not caused by illness – it most often affects
- certain types
of lung disease known as
interstitial lung disease; or
- a side effect
from a medicine (for example,
cough is a possible side effect of most ACE inhibitors – often
prescribed for high blood pressure).
A persistent dry cough can cause problems,
including the following complications.
coughing can lead to urinary incontinence in
women, especially older women, pregnant women and those who have been
- Interrupted sleep resulting
in tiredness is a common problem for people with a persistent cough.
- Severe or
uncontrollable coughing fits can sometimes cause vomiting.
- Headaches may
result from a persistent cough.
to Treat Dry Cough Naturally
Drink water often to add moisture to your throat.
You can drink other drinks besides water if you choose, as long as they
are not acidic. Acidic drinks, such as orange juice, can irritate a dry
Run a humidifier in your home or office to add
moisture to the air in your environment.
Eat a tablespoon of buckwheat honey to soothe your
sore throat and reduce the frequency of coughing. A study published in
the December 2007 edition of "Archives of Pediatrics &
Adolescent Medicine" found that buckwheat honey effectively suppressed
cough symptoms in study participants. The buckwheat honey can be eaten
plain, dissolved in warm water or mixed in an herbal tea. See
"Warnings" section below.
Avoid cigarette smoke, known allergens, harsh
chemical odors and other harsh fumes. If you live or work in an area
where pollution or toxins are prevalent, run an air purifier in your
home or office to filter irritating chemicals out of the air.
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- Buckwheat honey