A dry cough means a reflex caused to clear the airways of mucus and irritants. Dry cough is a non-productive cough as it does not clear the phlegm or mucus from the lungs. Many factors may cause a dry cough like acid reflux or allergies but any dry cough at night worsens with time and weather conditions.

An occasional dry cough means there is absolutely nothing to worry about. But a persistent dry cough may indicate a severe underlying condition. Dry coughs are due to infection, inflammation, malignancy, airway obstruction, trauma, and other abnormal processes. A dry cough is certainly life-threatening most of the time, leading to lung cancer and heart failure.

An acute dry cough usually lasts for two to three weeks which will be associated with a cold. But a chronic dry cough lasts for approximately more than eight weeks and mostly starts due to asthma or smoking habit. In such circumstances, seek immediate help like contacting and getting an online doctor consultation. This will help you save on time and offer a solution at the earliest.


A dry cough always occurs in conjunction with various other symptoms. The most common associated symptoms are shortness of breath, chest ache, blood pressure changes, hoarse voice, nausea, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing, vomiting, swollen neck lymph nodes, low blood oxygen levels and fever. The less common symptoms are bad breath, joint ache, fatigue, diarrhoea, bleeding gums, appetite loss, rashes, and unintentional weight loss. However, sometimes there are severe symptoms that indicate a life-threatening situation. They are ankle swelling, rapid heartbeat, severe pain in swallowing, difficulty in speaking, frequent urination, high fever more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and painful breathing. Depending on these, the condition is treated.


The most common cause of dry cough is:


Asthma is a type of health issue where the airways swell and narrow down. The coughs associated with asthma can be both productive and non-productive. The dry cough from asthma develops shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, sleeping trouble, and a whistling noise while exhaling. Dry cough treatment options for asthma are inhaling corticosteroids like fluticasone, triamcinolone and budesonide. However, these are long term medications. The short-term medications include bronchodilator inhalers like albuterol.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux is a kind of chronic acid reflux. It takes place when the stomach acid flows back to the oesophagus. This will irritate the oesophagus when it happens frequently and trigger a cough reflex. The dry cough caused due to gastroesophageal reflux will also cause heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation of sour liquid, feeling of a lump at the back of the throat, difficulty swallowing and a chronic sore throat. The best remedy to treat this is by bringing an effective lifestyle change and oral intake of acid reducers like omeprazole and lansoprazole.  

Postnasal Drip

When extra mucus drips down the throat, it is called postnasal drip. This mucus is watery, runny, and quickly drops to the throat's back, unlike healthy normal mucus. This dripping action tickles the nerves in the throat and triggers a dry cough. It will lead to a sore throat, runny nose, swallowing trouble and persistent dry cough at night. The best way to treat a chronic dry cough caused due to a postnasal drip is to stream and clear out the sinuses. A saline nasal spray will flush out the extra mucus in severe conditions.

Viral Infection

When the system gets infected with any virus, it develops a common cold. This eventually develops into a dry cough in most cases, even after the other viral symptoms have improved. The only way to treat this dry cough is to wait, as it will settle by itself. Soothe your throat with more warm liquids as it will cause more irritation in them. Throat lozenges will reduce the coughing frequency and give a higher chance to heal fast.

The less common cause of dry cough is:

Environmental Irritants

Environmental irritants like pollution, dust, smoke, pollen, mould, and chemicals like nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide cause airway irritation. Sometimes even clear air may be a reason for dry cough. The pure air being too dry or cold will develop a dry cough. Use a humidifier in a dry climate to add some moisture to the air.

ACE Inhibitors

Enalapril and lisinopril are the drugs containing ACE inhibitors to treat conditions like high blood pressure. They are another reason for dry cough, which develops as a significant side effect of ACE inhibitors.

Collapsed Lung

A collapsed lung is also known as pneumothorax. It happens due to sudden deflation of the lung. It can occur due to a chest injury or other underlying lung diseases. Additionally, it is seen to cause a sudden chest ache and shortness of breath in rare scenarios.

Whooping Cough

Pertussis is the other name for whooping cough. It is a contagious condition that causes a severe dry cough. It creates a whooping sound while inhaling and is usually confused with a common cold during its early stages. It attacks children the most, but now most of the kids are vaccinated against it.


Dry coughs are not very easy to treat as they take a long time to get cleared from the system. And once the airways are infected, they grow sensitive. Because of this, they get irritated quickly in future with the slightest external source. The different dry cough conditions must be treated accordingly to the symptoms they exhibit. There is no generalised medication plan for a dry cough. But to relieve dry coughs, you can try:

  • Cough suppressants like dextromethorphan.
  • Use throat lozenges to soothe the irritated throat tissue.
  • Add honey to a hot drink and gain temporary relief.


Dry coughs can be the most annoying health condition if they do not resolve with medications. Most of the time, a dry cough stops responding to dry cough treatment procedures. Once dry cough at night starts to disturb your sleep schedule, you have to try a combination of relieving remedies and OTC medications to gain better relief. Consider getting immediate help through a general physician near me option on the internet. Do not wait any longer and seek medical advice. Home-made remedies will help to some extent but will not entirely treat and solve the condition. So do not risk your health at any cost when you feel that your dry cough is worsening.

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December 30, 2021

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