What Is a Dry Cough?

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  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2019
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A dry cough is simply a cough that does not produce any mucus, and it can be caused for various different reasons. It is mostly brought on by having an irritation within the upper throat, but it can also be caused by anything from a common cold to allergies. Severe cases of dry cough, meaning that it remains for more than ten days, could be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

As with any other type of medical problem, a dry cough can be mild and goes away with a few over the counter medications, or it can be more severe, persisting for one to five weeks. In some cases, the cough could become an acute problem, meaning that it will continue to cause issues for eight or more weeks. It can also occur at any time of the day or night, and will rarely if ever occur on a schedule that can be counted on.


A basic dry cough can last a few days to a few weeks and they are usually instigated by common colds, pollutants in the air and clothes, or basic upper respiratory tract infections. These are easily treated by eliminating the cause if it is an allergy, and by taking some type of over the counter medication. An acute dry cough is one that lasts for more than eight weeks and is usually a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as laryngitis, tracheitis, asthma, lung cancer, whooping cough, and various other problems.

Eosinophillic bronchitis is another form of dry cough that is most commonly caused by smoking, or being around lots of smoke that is breathed in. It can also be caused by different forms of bacteria, which is an illness that children acquire fairly often when around others at schools and daycare centers. Viral infections within the throat and lungs may also cause a dry cough, so if a persistent cough is present it is recommended that a physician be consulted, rather than simply taking basic medications and ignoring it. The final cause of a dry cough is from side effects from prescription drugs that are being taken, such as high blood pressure medications.

There are many over the counter and prescription drugs that can help, as well as various homemade remedies. All of them can be helpful to alleviate the dry cough, and some can even eliminate the problem. However, if the condition continues for more than ten days, or becomes uncontrollably painful, a medical practitioner should be consulted in order to isolate the actual problem, which may be the only way to eliminate it.


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