7 Common Causes Of A Dry Cough


Updated on:

7 Common Causes Of A Dry Cough

A dry cough is a sudden, forceful hacking sound to release air and clear irritation in the throat or airways. Dry coughs don’t produce phlegm or mucus, which is a non-productive cough. The productive cough produces mucus and phlegm. Sometimes, dry coughs may cause a tickling sensation in the throat due to the throat’s irritation. There are many common causes of a dry cough that you need to know.

Coughing lasts for two weeks in general, which is acute. Coughing for more than eight weeks is considered a chronic dry cough. This long-lasting coughing may indicate the underlying medical conditions. Allergies to acid reflux can cause dry cough. In some cases, there is no cause for dry cough. Dry coughs have a severe impact on day-to-day life as it can get worse at night or while talking.

7 Common Causes Of A Dry Cough

1. Asthma

Source: CDC

Inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs is asthma. It is a long-term lung condition. In asthma, coughing is the most common symptom. Coughing can be non-productive and productive. But a dry, non-productive cough is the most frequent one. Asthma is minor but can affect the day to day activities. Asthma may lead to life-threatening attacks and there are things that trigger it.

The cough variant asthma (CVA), a type of asthma with a chronic dry cough, is a common symptom. But asthma-related cough may come and go with the seasons or worse when exposed to cold air or certain chemicals or fragrances. The cough of asthma worsened at night time.

Some other symptoms of asthma are –

  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Breath shortening
  • Trouble sleeping due to coughing
  • Whistling sound while exhaling

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Source: Prevention

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a body condition where stomach acid flows back into the tube, connecting the stomach to the throat that is the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a type of chronic acid reflux. Stomach acid irritates your esophagus and can trigger coughs. The coughing can also worsen the GERD. It is the most common cause of chronic cough.

Some other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease are –

  • Heartburn
  • Pain in chest
  • Regurgitation of food and sour liquid
  • Feeling lumpy in the back of the throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty in swallowing

3. Infections

Source: Prevention

Infected by one of the viruses can cause a cough or a common cold. Its symptoms can last for one or two weeks. But cough can linger long after other symptoms such as pneumonia, flu, or other upper respiratory tract infections. The post-cough is mostly a dry, non-productive cough. Chronic cough can also be caused by fungal infections of the lungs like tuberculosis (TB) infection or lung offering with non-tuberculous mycobacterial organisms. It is difficult to treat this type of cough. Coughing can irritate the airways more.

4. Post-nasal Drip

Post-nasal Drip
Source: Pinterest

Post-nasal drip is also known as Upper airway cough syndrome. Upper airway cough syndrome is a condition where the secretion of mucus from the nose down the back of the throat. The nose produces more mucus if you have cold and seasonal allergies. We tend to swallow the mucus without even realizing it. The body starts to produce extra mucus, feeling that the mucus is collecting in the back of the throat. You also feel that mucus is dripping down the throat from your nose, called a post-nasal drip.

Some of the other symptoms are:-

  • Sore throat
  • Feeling lumpy in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing at night

5. Blood Pressure Drugs

Blood Pressure Drugs
Source: Medical News Today

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can be responsible for a chronic cough. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is given to high blood pressure and heart failure patients. Enalapril and Lisinopril are some ACE inhibitors.

6. Environmental Irritants

Environmental Irritants
Source: Medical News Today

Smoke, dust, pollution, and pollen in the air can irritate the airways. Even some chemicals can also cause the problem. These external factors can enter your mouth, which will be responsible for the dry cough. Too cold or too dry can also cause a dry cough even though the air is clean.

7. Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough
Source: Beaumont Health

Whooping cough is also called pertussis. Whooping cough is a contagious condition. It can cause a severe dry cough and the pitch of whoop would increase when one breathed in. In the early stages, it is easy to get confused between whooping cough and the common cold. Whooping cough can be uncontrollable if the coughing fits.

Other Causes Of Dry Cough

  • Post viral (cough can persist for weeks after a viral illness)
  • Smoking
  • Collapsed lungs
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Psychological conditions (when coughing become a habit or a nervous response)
  • Stress (cough because of stress)
  • Hay fever (due to inhaling substances like pollen or dust from which you are allergic)
  • Inflammation of the larynx that is the voice box
  • Habit cough (it is present in day time only; mostly affects school-age children with no illness)
  • Interstitial lung disease (a type of lung disease)
  • Snoring or sleep apnoea
  • Side effects from medicine
  • Menopause (in women, hormonal changes can raise changes in the respiratory tract also)


A dry cough is quite difficult to treat, so patients need to have patience and give their throat to heal. If the throat gets sensitive once, then it can easily be irritated by coughing. If the coughing is dragging for weeks, it cannot be very pleasant also. You can consider taking home remedies to get relief from annoying dry coughs. But if you don’t know the cause of the cough, you need to consult a doctor.

Read also – 12 Home Remedies For A Speedy Recovery From Dry Cough!

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Leave a Comment