6 Possible causes of dry cough and your treatment options
09/24/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

Coughing in itself is no cause for alarm – it is simply your body’s natural response to something that is irritating your air passages. Dry cough, which often occurs due to irritation in the throat, does not bring up any phlegm or mucus but causes an itching sensation. However, persistent dry coughing can be a sign of serious medical conditions.


Coughing is one of the most common symptoms of asthma. For people with asthma, coughing is often worse at night or early in the morning. The cough in most types of asthma is also often productive, bringing up phlegm. However, in a certain type of asthma called cough-variant asthma, dry cough is the main symptom people experience.

Remedies: Currently, there is no cure for asthma, but its treatments focus on relieving symptoms and preventing future attacks. One remedy to keep asthma at bay is eucalyptus oil. In a bowl of boiling water, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and inhale its steam. This will help open nasal blockages to promote easier breathing.


GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition wherein stomach acids leak back up the esophagus or food pipe. About 40 percent of people with GERD experience chronic, dry cough.

Remedies: GERD can be managed with consistent routines, such as eating small meals multiple times a day instead of three large meals, limiting or avoiding foods that trigger or worsen symptoms like fatty or spicy foods, quitting tobacco smoking, and avoiding alcohol consumption.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

IPF is a condition wherein scar tissue develops inside the lungs. As the scar tissue thickens, it makes inhaling increasingly difficult. Experts still don’t know the exact cause of this condition. A persistent, dry cough is one of the most common symptoms of IPF.


Remedies: Alternative treatments for IPF include medicinal mushrooms and mind-body stress relief.

Postnasal drip

This condition occurs when mucus from the nose and sinuses drips down the back of the throat. This triggers a cough, which can be either productive or dry.

Remedies: Using a cool-mist humidifier can increase the moisture level in the air, preventing dry air that can worsen postnasal drips. Gargling with a warm saltwater solution may also soothe a sore throat and clear mucus from the back of the throat.

Upper respiratory infections

One of the symptoms of upper respiratory infections like the common cold and the flu is acute coughing. Initially, the cough is productive but later becomes dry as a person recovers from the infections.

Remedies: Drinking plenty of warm liquids, such as tea or broth, can soothe a raw throat from coughing. You can also increase moisture around you by using a humidifier or taking a steamy shower. It is also important to avoid or protect yourself against throat irritants like cigarette smoke or polluted air.

Lung cancer

Although not as common as other conditions, lung cancer can also cause a chronic, dry cough. A cough that is associated with lung cancer can be either dry or wet, can occur at any time, and even interfere with sleep at night.

Remedies: Treatment for the condition depends on the type and stage of lung cancer.

Other causes

A dry cough can occur due to allergies, cigarette smoking, and prolonged exposure to dust, pollution, and irritating chemicals. Some pharmaceutical drugs, such as angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drugs for high blood pressure can also cause a dry cough.

Remedies: Avoiding tobacco smoke, allergy triggers, pharmaceutical drugs, and wearing a mask can help prevent a dry cough from occurring. Taking honey, menthol, and eucalyptus can ease irritation and reduce coughing. Taking a hot shower can also relieve throat dryness and irritation. (Related: Try these home remedies to relieve a dry cough.)

Instead of heading to your local pharmacy for a cough suppressant, consider these natural remedies available for relieving a dry cough.

Sources include:



VerywellHealth.com 1

VerywellHealth.com 2


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