Skip to main content

9 Possible Reasons for Your Dry Cough

18 ways to stop this dry cough syrup cough medicine dry cough hacking cough

Dry cough is irritating and a nuisance. Persistent Dry Cough is even worse and can make you unbearable to live with!

In most cases, dry coughs are the result of an unresolved upper-respiratory infection (URI). However, your dry cough could be due to other reasons, which are listed out below.

1. Upper Respiratory Viral Infection

External pathogens can play a significant role in causing a dry cough. When our respiratory system comes into contact with these harmful microorganisms, it can trigger our immune system response which leads to coughing. Common external pathogens that can cause a dry cough include viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

A common type of dry cough is called Post-infectious cough (PIC). It is a type of cough that occurs after having the acute symptoms of a respiratory tract infection. This cough can persist for more than weeks or months after the initial infection.

Upper respiratory infections caused by viruses like the flu or COVID-19 irritate the airways and trigger the cough reflex. This may happen in the acute phase, in which the cough may be productive, which is good.

In many cases, even after most of the viral infection has been cleared, the cough reflex continues playing on like a broken record. This is partially due to residual infection, but also a cough reflex that is switched on perpetually.

This type of incomplete recovery and persistent cough is what is terms Post-infectious cough.

2. Mycoplasma infection

Mycoplasma Pneumoniae is an atypical bacterium that causes lung infection. A persistent and chronic cough is one of the hallmarks of a mycoplasma infection that is not fully cleared.

Transmission: Mycoplasma transmits through respiratory droplets, therefore being in close proximity greatly increase the chances of infection.

Location: Mycoplasma mainly affects the lower respiratory tract, specifically bronchi and bronchioles. Because the bronchial walls are irritated, this triggers the cough reflexes.

Diagnosis: The most common symptom is a mild and persistent cough that doesn’t go away. Because it does not interfere much with daily activities, mycoplasma is often left undiagnosed, which causes it to spread from person to person. PCR is the primary lab identification for mycoplasma.

Treatment: Mycoplasma bacterium does not have a cell wall, hence penicillin antibiotics like amoxicillin which target the cell wall are often not effective. Macrolides and tetracycline may be more effective, but it has to be said that mycoplasma infections do resolve on their own, so antibiotic treatment may not always be necessary.

3. Postnasal Drip

Postnasal drip occurs when excess catarrhal mucus drips down the back of nose into the throat. This can trigger throat irritation, a sensation of a lump in the throat as well as a chronic cough.

A dry cough is sometimes due to postnasal drip. The cough reflex is a protective mechanism designed to clear the airways of irritants or foreign substances. In the case of postnasal drip, the mucus itself acts as an irritant, stimulating the cough reflex. This constant irritation can lead to a persistent dry cough that can be difficult to get rid of.

  1. Diagnosing a cough caused by postnasal drip can be challenging, because the same symptoms might appear in other respiratory conditions. However, certain clues can point to postnasal drip as the culprit.Position: A cough that worsens when lying down, especially at night, is a strong indication of postnasal drip. That said, it has to be differentiated from a dry cough due to GERD.
  2. Alternating between Wet and Dry: a cough that changes in quality from dry to wet, or happens at the same time rhinitis or sinusitis, can be indicative of postnasal drip as the underlying cause.

Once you correct diagnose your dry cough as stemming from postnasal drip, the treatment strategy includes:

  1. Reducing catarrhal inflammation and drip in the nose: This may involve antihistamines or steroid decongestant nasal sprays. You may also opt to allow the viral infection to pass while you rest and heal naturally.
  2. Manage the cough symptoms: The cough reflex may remain even after the inflammation has gone away. In this case, it can be helpful to  manage the cough, whether through over-the-counter medicines like dextromethasone or herbal cough syrups.

4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD can cause stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, leading to throat irritation and a dry cough. This cough often worsens at night or after eating.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition characterized by a leakage of stomach acid back up the esophagus. GERD is often associated with heartburn and indigestion. However, GERD’s reach may extend beyond the digestive symptoms and cause a chronic cough.

When the acid irritates the esophagus, this irritation triggers a cough reflex, which is an involuntary attempt to clear the airways of perceived irritants.

The irritation caused by GERD may also result in laryngitis, an inflammation of the voice box. Laryngitis can manifest as hoarseness, throat pain and a persistent dry cough.

A cough that worsens after lying down or eating spicy or fatty foods is a strong indication of GERD. Additionally, a cough that is accompanied by other GERD symptoms like heartburn, indigestion or a sore throat further strengthens the likelihood of GERD involvement.

5. Smoking

Smoking is a habit that has long been recognized for its detrimental effects on overall health, including a heavy tool on the respiratory system. One of the most common manifestations of this damage is smoker’s cough, a chronic dry cough that can persist for years or even decades after quitting smoking.

When tobacco smoke is inhaled, it introduces a plethora of harmful chemicals into the lungs, triggering a cascade of inflammatory responses. These inflammatory responses lead to the narrowing of airways, increased mucus production, and damage to the delicate cilia lining the airways.

Cilia, the tiny hair-like structures that line the airways, play a crucial role in clearing mucus and debris from the lungs. When cilia are damaged by tobacco smoke, their ability to function effectively is diminished, leading to the accumulation of mucus and irritants in the airways.

The body’s response to this accumulation is a dry cough, an attempt to expel the trapped mucus and irritants.

6. Asthmatic Bronchitis

The dry cough is a hallmark symptom of asthmatic bronchitis. The airway inflammation in Asthmatic Bronchitis triggers a cough reflex. However, the narrowed airways make it difficult for the body to effectively expel mucus, leading to a dry, hacking cough.

This dry cough can be particularly bothersome at night, as the airways tend to relax and allow mucus to accumulate. The cough reflex, triggered by this accumulated mucus, can disrupt sleep and significantly impact quality of life.

If you have asthmatic bronchitis and also suffer from a dry cough, the most common treatment strategies are:

  1. Control Inflammation: Anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids, can help reduce airway inflammation, alleviating asthma symptoms and potentially reducing the severity of the cough.
  2. Manage the Cough: Over-the-counter cough suppressants can provide temporary relief from the dry cough. Additionally, you can try humidifying the air, staying hydrated, and avoiding irritants.

7. Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive condition characterized by airflow obstruction in the lungs. It is often associated with a persistent dry cough.

COPD arises from chronic inflammation and damage to the airways and lung parenchyma. This damage may be due to inhaled irritants like cigarette smoke, but it may be caused by other irritants including industrial chemicals, fumes and dust in the workplace.

Narrowed airways impede the flow of air in and out of the lungs. The cardinal symptom of COPD is shortness of breath. In addition, the damaged airways produce excessive mucus, but this mucus is not easy to clear out because there is prior damage to the cilia, which are the tiny hair-like structures that line the airways and propel mucus upwards.

As a result, COPD suffers present with shortness of breath and a persistent dry cough.

8. Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a life-threatening condition characterized by the blockage of a blood vessel in the lungs by a clot. It often presents with a constellation of symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. While not as common as other symptoms, a dry cough can be a significant indicator of PE and warrants prompt medical attention.

PE arises when a blood clot, typically originating from a vein in the legs or pelvis, travels through the bloodstream and becomes trapped in a pulmonary artery. This blockage impedes blood flow to the lungs, reducing oxygenation and triggering a series of physiological responses.

One of the consequences of PE is the activation of the body’s fight-or-flight response. This activation triggers a cough reflux as the body tries to clear the airways and increase oxygen intake.

The dry cough associated with PE can be challenging to differentiate from other causes of cough. However, certain clues can point towards PE as the culprit:

  1. Sudden onset: A dry cough that develops suddenly, often accompanied by other PE symptoms, suggests a more serious underlying cause.
  2. Aggravated by exertion: The cough may worsen with physical activity, reflecting the reduced oxygenation caused by the PE.
  3. Absence of mucus production: The lack of mucus production distinguishes the PE cough from a typical cough, which often produces mucus.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial for managing PE and improving outcomes. Once diagnosed, treatment for PE typically involves using anticoagulants to prevent blood clots from forming or growing larger. In addition to anticoagulants, supplemental oxygen may be provided to address the reduced oxygen levels caused by the PE.

In PE, the dry cough is just a symptom of something more sinister. Swift diagnosis and treatment of PE is key here.

9. Lung Cancer

A dry cough, while often attributed to less serious conditions, can be an early warning sign of lung cancer. By recognizing the link between lung cancer and dry cough, individuals can seek prompt medical attention, leading to early diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatment. Remember, early detection and intervention play a critical role in improving lung cancer outcomes and enhancing overall health.

Lung cancer arises from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. These abnormal cells, known as cancer cells, have the ability to divide and spread uncontrollably. These cancer cells invade surrounding tissues and eventually form tumors.

The dry cough associated with lung cancer stems from the tumor’s interaction with the airways and surrounding tissues. The growing tumor can irritate the delicate lining of the airways, triggering the cough reflex as the body attempts to clear the perceived irritant.

In some cases, the tumor may directly obstruct the airways, narrowing their passage and making it difficult for air to flow freely. This obstruction can also lead to a dry cough, as the body struggles to expel mucus and keep the airways clear.

A persistent dry cough can be a symptom of various conditions, making it challenging to pinpoint lung cancer as the cause. However, certain characteristics of the cough can raise suspicion of lung cancer:

  1. Chronicity: A dry cough that persists for three weeks or more without an apparent cause is a concerning sign.
  2. Blood-tinged sputum: Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum, a sign of bleeding in the airways, is a strong indicator of lung cancer.
  3. Unexplained weight loss: Unexplained weight loss, often a symptom of advanced lung cancer, can be accompanied by a dry cough.

Early diagnosis of lung cancer is crucial for improving treatment outcomes and survival rates. Once diagnosed, lung cancer treatment depends on the stage and type of cancer and may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these modalities. In some cases, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may be used to target specific cancer cells.

Dry Cough Treatment Unveiled: Dry cough symptoms and dry cough causes

A dry cough, defined by persistent throat irritation and a lack of mucus, can be caused by a variety of factors. Dry cough symptoms include a scratchy throat, hoarseness, and increased discomfort at night, which frequently disrupts sleep. Common dry cough causes include viral infections such as the flu, allergies to environmental triggers, postnasal drip, and exposure to irritants such as smoke. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also contribute to this condition. When dealing with dry cough symptoms, hydration is critical for throat moisture, and using a humidifier can help relieve discomfort. Dry cough treatment options include over-the-counter cough suppressants, allergy medications, and lifestyle changes to avoid irritants. Seeking medical advice is critical for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan based on the underlying cause of the dry cough.

Consider TCM Dry Cough Syrup

Our TCM Dry Cough Syrup is effective in treating a dry cough that remains after a viral infection. It may also be useful for persistent dry coughs that come with mycoplasma infection.

If your dry cough continues for a prolonged period or becomes worse despite using pharmaceutical cough medicines, it is worth considering our TCM Dry Cough Syrup. We understand the anatomy of a dry cough and know how to help you recover from it!

If you want to trial our very effective TCM Dry Cough Syrup, fill out the form below:

We need your name.
For us to schedule appointments with with you via whatsapp.
For us to send you electronic copies of invoices or for other correspondences.
With relevant information that you provide, you wil get an appropriate cough formula for yourself.


Reasons for a persistent dry cough?

There are several potential underlying causes of a persistent dry cough, so seeking medical advice is necessary for a precise diagnosis.

  1. Prolonged coughing can be caused by respiratory infections such as pneumonia, flu, or the common cold, which can irritate the airways.
  2. Chronic coughing can be brought on by allergies to materials such as dust, pollen, or pet dander, which the body uses as an outlet for irritation.
  3. Continuous coughing can also be attributed to postnasal drip, which is frequently linked to allergies or sinus infections.
  4. Chronic coughing may result from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which aggravates the esophagus with stomach acid.
  5. The chronic inflammation of the airways that characterizes asthma can cause a persistent dry cough.
  6. There may be other contributing factors, including exposure to irritants like smoke, drugs (such as ACE inhibitors), interstitial lung disease, chronic bronchitis from smoking, and psychogenic factors like stress or anxiety.

Seeking medical attention is essential in order to enable a thorough evaluation and customized treatment based on the particular cause, particularly if the cough is accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain.

Possible causes of a dry cough?

A dry cough can have a number of causes, all of which should be carefully considered.

  1. Respiratory infections such as pneumonia or the flu often manifest with a persistent dry cough due to irritation of the airways.
  2. Allergy with dust, the pollen, or dander from pets can cause coughing fits as the body tries to expel irritating materials.
  3. Postnasal drip, a typical side effect of allergies or sinus issues, can make a dry cough worse.
  4. Gastric reflux disease (GERD), which is characterized by stomach acid irritating the esophagus and causing coughing, particularly at night, is another potential cause.
  5. Long-term illnesses like asthma or COPD, both of which are characterized by persistent airway inflammation, can trigger a persistent dry cough.
  6. Environmental elements may also be important, such as pollution or smoke exposure.
  7. Certain medications, like ACE inhibitors, have been known to give some people a chronic cough.
  8. Both chronic bronchitis, which is frequently associated with smoking, and interstitial lung disease can cause persistent coughing.
  9. Furthermore, psychogenic variables such as anxiety or stress can aggravate a dry cough.

Best cough syrup for dry cough in singapore?

The best cough syrup for dry cough in Singapore depends on a number of variables, including the personal preferences of the person suffering from dry cough.

Below are some of the better-known dry coughs syrups in Singapore:

  • Robitussin frequently contains ingredients like guaifenesin to loosen mucus and dextromethorphan to suppress coughing.
  • Benadryl and Strepsils both have formulations with calming qualities that might include menthol or honey.

It is critical to select a cough syrup that works with your unique symptoms and any underlying medical issues. Additionally, tailored advice based on variables like age, current medications, and possible allergies can be obtained by speaking with a pharmacist or other healthcare provider.

Why do i have a dry cough at night?

A persistent dry cough that occurs at night can have multiple causes, so it is important to investigate the possible causes of this symptom.

  1. Coughing at night can be aggravated by postnasal drip, allergies, and respiratory infections, as well as by dry air or being near allergens in the bedroom.
  2. Airway sensitivity or stomach acid reflux play a part, particularly during periods of rest, in cough-variant asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  3. Coughing at night can be made worse by lifestyle decisions like nutrition and exposure to indoor pollutants or cigarette smoke.
  4. Sometimes, underlying medical conditions such as interstitial lung disease, COPD, chronic bronchitis, or heart failure result in a persistent dry cough.

Is dry cough a symptom of TB?

It is true that having a dry cough may indicate tuberculosis (TB).

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB), a disease that mostly affects the lungs.

TB patients have the following signs and symptoms:

  • persistent dry cough
  • sputum production
  • chest pain
  • exhaustion
  • weight loss
  • night sweats
  • hemoptysis (coughing up blood)

As the disease progresses, a dry cough associated with tuberculosis may eventually develop into a productive cough.

It is important to remember that tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease, and that effective management and the prevention of its spread depend on early detection and treatment. When someone exhibits signs of tuberculosis (TB), such as a chronic dry cough, they should get medical help right away to ensure a proper diagnosis and course of treatment.

What to avoid in dry cough?

The symptoms of a dry cough can be relieved by avoiding a variety of objects and irritants.

  1. First and foremost, it is important to minimize the amount of tobacco smoke that is inhaled and smoked because it can exacerbate coughing and irritation of the throat.
  2. Due to the fact that these factors can exacerbate their respiratory tracts, people with dry coughs should also stay away from areas with high levels of dust or pollution.
  3. It is best to stay away from strong smells because some can induce or aggravate coughing.
  4. In addition, people should watch what they eat; they should stay away from spicy and acidic foods as these can aggravate acid reflux, which is a common cause of dry cough.
  5. Because alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate an individual, it is important to maintain adequate hydration to prevent throat dryness.

To sum up, limiting exposure to respiratory irritants, staying properly hydrated, and making deliberate dietary decisions can all help to control and lessen the discomfort that comes with having a dry cough.