What is a dry cough?
A dry cough is a type of cough that does not produce any mucus or phlegm. It is also known as a non-productive cough because it does not result in the expulsion of any substances from the respiratory tract. A dry cough can be caused by a variety of factors, such as allergies, viral infections, irritants, and certain medications.
Dry coughs are often described as a tickling or scratching sensation in the throat that leads to an involuntary cough. They can be persistent and can cause discomfort or even pain, particularly if the coughing episodes are frequent or prolonged. Dry coughs can also cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping.
Treatment for a dry cough depends on the underlying cause. Over-the-counter cough suppressants, such as dextromethorphan, can help relieve dry coughs by blocking the cough reflex. However, if the dry cough is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as asthma or acid reflux, treatment may involve addressing that condition. It is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you have a persistent dry cough or any other respiratory symptoms.
Is a dry cough a symptom of COVID-19?
Yes, a dry cough is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a dry cough is one of the symptoms of COVID-19, along with fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
It is important to note that a dry cough alone does not necessarily mean that a person has COVID-19, as it can also be caused by other conditions, such as allergies or asthma. However, if you have a dry cough along with other symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, you should contact your healthcare provider to discuss whether you should be tested for COVID-19 and what steps you should take to prevent the spread of the virus.
How to get rid of a dry cough
Getting rid of a dry cough depends on the underlying cause of the cough. Here are some general tips that may help relieve a dry cough:
1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, tea, and soup, to help keep the throat moist and reduce irritation.
2. Use a humidifier: Use a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air and prevent your throat from getting too dry.
3. Try cough drops: Sucking on cough drops or hard candies can help stimulate saliva production and soothe a dry throat.
4. Avoid irritants: Try to avoid exposure to irritants, such as smoke, dust, and chemicals, which can exacerbate a dry cough.
5. Take over-the-counter medication: Over-the-counter cough suppressants, such as dextromethorphan, can help relieve dry coughs by blocking the cough reflex. However, it is important to follow the dosage instructions carefully and not take these medications if you have a productive cough.
6. Address underlying medical conditions: If your dry cough is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as asthma or acid reflux, treatment may involve addressing that condition.
If your dry cough persists or worsens, or if you have other symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, or chest pain, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider. They can help determine the underlying cause of your cough and recommend the appropriate treatment.
OTC dry cough medications
There are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can be used to treat a dry cough. Here are some common types of OTC medications for dry coughs:
1. Cough suppressants: Cough suppressants are medications that can help to reduce coughing by blocking the cough reflex. The active ingredient in many cough suppressants is dextromethorphan (DM), which is found in brands such as Robitussin DM, Vicks Formula 44, and Mucinex DM.
2. Expectorants: Expectorants are medications that help to thin and loosen mucus, making it easier to cough up. Guaifenesin is the active ingredient in many expectorants, which can be found in brands such as Robitussin Chest Congestion and Mucinex.
3. Antihistamines: Antihistamines are medications that can help to reduce allergy symptoms, such as a dry cough. They work by blocking the release of histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergic reactions. Common antihistamines include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and loratadine (Claritin).
4. Decongestants: Decongestants are medications that can help to reduce congestion and relieve a dry cough. They work by constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages, which reduces swelling and makes it easier to breathe. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is a common decongestant.
It is important to follow the dosage instructions on OTC medications carefully and to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any new medication, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications. Additionally, it is important to address the underlying cause of a dry cough, such as allergies or respiratory infections, to effectively manage symptoms.
Other remedies for a dry cough
Aside from over-the-counter medications, there are several home remedies that can help relieve a dry cough. Here are some remedies you can try:
1. Honey: Honey has been used for centuries as a natural cough suppressant. It can help to soothe the throat and reduce coughing. You can take a spoonful of honey or mix it with warm water or tea.
2. Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe the throat and reduce coughing. You can make ginger tea by steeping sliced ginger in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
3. Steam: Inhaling steam can help to moisten the throat and loosen mucus, making it easier to cough up. You can take a hot shower or use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
4. Saltwater gargle: Gargling with warm salt water can help to reduce inflammation in the throat and soothe a dry cough. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
5. Fluids: Staying hydrated is important when dealing with a dry cough. Drink plenty of water, tea, and other fluids to help keep the throat moist.
6. Rest: Getting plenty of rest can help the body to recover and reduce the severity of a dry cough.
It is important to note that while these remedies may help relieve symptoms of a dry cough, they are not a substitute for medical treatment. If your dry cough persists or worsens, or if you have other symptoms such as fever or shortness of breath, it is important to consult with your healthcare.