Dry cough: causes, symptoms, and medication
Coughing is the body’s natural reaction to something blocking the airways. When we cough, it’s the body’s way of dislodging the irritant or mucus so we can breathe normally again. A productive cough, also known as a wet cough, it a cough that produces phlegm or mucus. A nonproductive cough, or dry cough, does not.
What is dry cough?
Dry cough, or nonproductive cough, is a category of cough wherein there is no mucus or phlegm being produced by the body. This results in an itchy, scratchy sensation in the airways.
What are the causes of dry cough?
Dry cough can be caused by a number of things including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Postnasal drip (extra mucus that drips from the nose to the throat)
- Viral infection
- Environmental irritants like pollution, dust, or pollen
- A collapsed lung (pneumothorax)
- Lung cancer
What are the symptoms of dry cough?
A dry or nonproductive cough feels like a scratchy, irritating sensation at the back of your throat. Some describe it as a choking sensation in the throat. It is called a dry cough because no mucus or phlegm is developed along with the cough.
What are the drugs for dry cough?
The treatment for a nonproductive cough will depend on what is causing it. In most cases, a dry cough will go away with the use of dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant). Other treatments may include:
- Inhaled bronchodilators for asthma
- Antacids and proton-pump inhibitors for GERD
- Antihistamines to relieve allergies
Antibiotics for dry cough is rarely ever used. Most dry coughs are caused by a viral infection (like the common cold or the flu), which cannot be cured with antibiotics. Using antibiotics when it is not required may cause your body to develop a resistance towards antibiotics.