A dry cough can range from being a minor irritation to an extreme annoyance, so there is no doubt that most people want to know how to get rid of a dry cough! A dry cough is named as such as it is a non productive cough, with no phlegm being coughed up from the chest. When treating a dry cough, the main thing that needs to be considered is the cause of the dry cough, as treating the underlying cause will help in being able to get rid of a dry cough.
What can cause a dry cough?
A dry cough, which is often deemed as non-productive because it doesn’t bring up any phlegm, can persist for weeks. If you are suffering from an annoying cough such as this, there are some reasons why you have it, some of which may be surprising.
Pollutants or irritants in the air
Sometimes, a dry cough emerges because of the environment we are in. Is the air extremely dry where you spend the majority of your time? If so, use a humidifier to moisten the air. If you are unable to connect a humidifier, leave out an uncovered glass of water so that some water molecules are absorbed.
A cold or the flu
A dry cough often signals that it isn’t a cold or a virus. Most times, post-nasal drip is often a common symptom of a cold, and it causes a productive cough. However, there are times where you may have a dry cough because of a cold. If this is the case, try to use throat lozenges and keep your throat as moist as possible to prevent it. In addition, resting is imperative to allowing your body time and energy to cure your dry cough.
GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
Gasthroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also cause a dry cough. GERD is caused because stomach acid enters the throat, which is acidic and harmful to the soft tissues of the throat. The contact of this acid on the throat will produce a cough, which is usually dry. Many times, people who suffer from GERD won’t even realize that they have this cough. If you suffer from GERD and notice that you have a frequent dry cough, try taking some antacids to relieve the symptoms, and the cough.
In addition, a dry cough can be a symptom of cough-variant asthma. This asthma doesn’t portray the same symptoms as other types, and because of this, a dry cough may be one of the only symptoms of this. Cough-variant asthma is more common in children or children with asthma, but if you experience a lingering cough, it may be best to schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your symptoms. If it is cough-variant asthma, your doctor will prescribe you an inhaler and you will see your cough subside in about six to eight weeks.
Other Possible Causes
More serious illnesses, such as emphysema and lung cancer, are also associated with a dry cough. However, those are accompanied by other symptoms. The best thing you can do with a dry cough is try to treat it with homeopathic remedies, and if it still persists, visit a physician to get diagnosed.
There are some other causes of dry cough which include the following:
- Dry atmosphere
- Change in weather and temperature
- Medication induced cough by a group of medications called ACE inhibitors (captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril, perindopril, quinapril, ramipril and trandolapril)
- Heart failure
How to Treat a Dry Cough
Dry cough is a nagging compliant made by many and was given its name due to its non production of phlegm. As against a wet cough, these are usually not associated with bacterial infections but would be evident following an infective process or after being subjected to an irritant exposure.
Although the cough itself is a protective mechanism in the body, a dry cough would not usually be helpful to you but would only make you suffer. At times it may be rather embarrassing and would not be a help in your social engagements as well. Therefore, trying out several remedies to relieve a dry cough would worth its effort and following are some of the suggestion which can get rid of such nuisances.
However, most of the dry coughs that we encounter in our day to day lives are due to environmental factors. Following suggestions will help in suppressing the cough reflex and curing this troublesome condition up to a certain level.
If you can eat ginger raw then this is the best medicine for dry cough. Peel a small piece of fresh ginger and add some salt to it. Chew the ginger for as long as you can to get relief from the dry cough.
And if you can’t eat raw ginger directly then mix dry ginger, sugar and black pepper in equal parts and take it with butter twice daily. If this is also difficult then just extract the juice of ginger and mix it with honey. Take this 3-4 times a day for quick relief from coughing.
Increase ginger intake by drinking ginger tea. You can prepare ginger tea easily by adding ginger slices to the boiling water before you add tea leaves. Drink hot tea to sooth your throat.
Salt And Water
Take some lukewarm water and add some salt to it. Use this water to gargle. Doing Gargles is the most common and effective treatment for dry cough.
HONEY the golden wonder honey can be used as a great remedy for dry cough. Drink hot milk with some honey in the night before going to bed. This will help to give instant relief from dry cough and also help to have a sound sleep. In the day time add a tablespoon of honey to a glass of boiling water and drink number of times. This will help to soothe the throat to a great deal.
Turmeric has splendid natural antiseptic properties and can help to fight against dry cough. Take one gram of turmeric powder and mix it with a teaspoon of honey. Take this 3 times a day and dry cough will vanish away quickly.
Soak five to six almonds in water overnight. In the morning peel the almonds skin and grind the almonds to a fine paste. Add a few grains of sugar to this paste and eat this mix. It’s a time tested home remedy for dry cough.
Another effective way to smooth a sore throat is honey, it also can be helpful for your dry cough when you take it with hot water or tea. A study by Pennsylvania State University, Hershey found that honey is more effective than common over the counter cough medications.
Drinking a lot of Water
Often, a dry cough can be the result of the simplest explanation. Dehydration can be a precursor to this condition as a lack of available fluids can irritate the throat. To prevent or get rid of a dry cough, get and stay well hydrated. The average person needs eight or more cups of water per day.
Cough drops or hard candy can also help to get rid of a dry cough. Like with honey, the primary benefit of this can be to stimulate the salivary glands and ease a dry sore throat. These should not to be used by young children due to choking hazard.
Minimize breathing dry air
Dry air can be a major throat irritant leading to a dry cough. To get rid of a dry cough caused by dry air, the National Institutes of Health suggest using a humidifier overnight or taking a hot shower to increase the level of moisture in the air.
Smoking is notorious for creating chronic bouts of coughing. If smoking is behind a dry cough, quitting the habit is the only way to truly deal with the issue. According to the University of Michigan Health System, along with cigarette smoke, frequent exposure to certain chemicals and dust can cause or exacerbate a dry cough. If outside irritants like these are the cause of a persistent and long-lasting dry cough, relief will not come until exposure to the irritants is curbed.
A dry cough can be an irritating affliction. It is a cough that is triggered not by foreign mass in the lungs (like a productive cough) but by irritation. It is generally advisable to let a productive cough continue, as it helps to break up and remove dangerous material in the lungs, however there is no such benefit to be had from a dry cough. There are many ways to relieve this type of cough, some very conventional and based in western medicine, and some more home-remedy-like that are based on alternative treatment methods.
One very common approach is to take cough medicine. Robitussin and generics of such are great choices and are aimed at controlling the cough as well as other general symptoms associated with illnesses that often accompany the cough. They are likely the most effective choices, however they do come with the downside of sedation. Let it be noted that there are two types of cough medicines, a suppressant (antitussive) and an expectorant. The expectorant will help break up material in the lungs and encourages a productive cough – this is not beneficial in the case of a dry cough however and you are better off avoiding expectorants. Read the labels carefully, and search for cough suppressants instead.
An approach quite similar to the cough medicine many people turn to is herbal remedies. These have a reputation for being gentler and having less side effects, however are often considered less effective. The FDA does not consider herbal remedies to be drugs and so does not regulate them as such – so there are few studies done to examine the true benefits of herbal medicine. However, when used with caution and with respect to their drug-like nature they have often been reported to be effective. Some simple guidelines to their use include not taking more than one herb at once, as we do not fully understand their interactions. Do not take too much of any particular herb. Always tell your doctor about herbs you may be taking, especially when being seen, because they may interact with the doctor’s preferred methods of treatments.
Commonly used herbs for a cough are:
- evening primrose
- Iceland moss
- sweet violet
You can find some of these in pill form in the pharmacy sections of any grocery store. If you are preparing fresh herbs, boil the leaves in a cup of water to form an herbal tea. You may flavor with honey and lemon juice if desired – however DO NOT give honey to a child less than 2 years of age.
OTC Cough Drops and Throat Lozenges
A good medium between the two is over the counter cough drops and throat lozenges. They are generally very safe and effective, however do read the label and note that there is a limit to how many you can safely consume in a day.
Some simple, non-pharmaceutical interventions include elevating the head of your bed while you sleep, and generally sitting up so as to keep your respiratory system properly aligned and to relieve some of the irritation on the nerves that cause the cough reflex. You can also try increasing your fluid intake, as hydration can both soothe your throat and strengthen your body.
When you Will Need to See the Doctor
A dry cough may be the symptom of an underlying problem that needs further investigation. In these situations, self treatment is inappropriate, as you may be putting your health at risk. See your doctor if any of the following are present:
- Coughing up green or bloody mucous
- High fever (above 39C/102F)
- Short of breath or wheezy
- Coughing only at night
- Cough is associated with a great deal of chest pain
- You are a smoker
- Cough is accompanied by persisting headache and a rash
- Cough lasts for more than 10 days
- Cough is not relieved by taking a cough suppressant
- Cough is present in a child under six years old
This is not an exhaustive list of situations when you should consult your doctor. If your cough does not seem to be from having a cold, this will require further investigation. Talk to your pharmacist about your cough, and they will be able to provide you with further advice if necessary.
Coughing is a useful mechanism for ridding the body of unwanted substances, but a persistent cough is a nuisance. A dry cough can become very irritating, but there are a few remedies and removable causes which can ease the irritation and relieve a sore throat. Always consult a doctor before beginning any medical treatment or using any treatment on a young child.