By Dr. Parvez A. Shaikh, General Physician
Coughing is a way through which your body removes mucus and foreign substances from your upper airway passage and lungs. Dry cough is a tickly cough and can be caused due to allergies or viral infections. Dry cough doesn’t produce any mucus. It occurs due to inflammation or irritation in the throat passage. Sometimes dry cough can be very severe and can affect breathing as well.
What Causes Dry Cough?
- Viral Infections – Infections like flu and common cold can cause dry cough. This occurs during the middle or towards the end of a viral infection.
- Allergies – Sometimes allergy to grass, tree pollen or hay fever may cause immense irritation to the nose, eyes and throat. Allergies to other particles like animal fur (known as allergic rhinitis) also result in dry cough.
- Air Pollutants – These pollutants can irritate the back of the throat resulting in dry cough. This situation can arise if a non- smoker enters a smoky environment, inhaling air which contains pollutants from cars and buses and living near a factory or an industrial zone that emits harmful gases and particulates.
- Acid Reflux – This occurs when the acids in the stomach travel up to the throat. Small amounts of acid might enter the respiratory tract causing coughing and inflammation. Acid reflux usually occurs when one lies down flat immediately after a heavy meal.
- Medications – Certain medications used for high blood pressure can also lead to dry cough.
- Psychological Conditions – This occurs when a person develops a habit to cough. This behavior becomes compulsive and is also referred to psychogenic cough. Sometimes, the person doesn’t even realize he or she is coughing. This may require psychological counseling more than medications.
- Stress – Dry cough can occur when people face a stressful situation. In such situations, breathing becomes very shallow when you get nervous or anxious. This in turns triggers dry cough. Many people also tend to cough when they are in an uncomfortable situation as a response to the stress.
- Persistent Coughs – Physical conditions such as asthma, heart diseases, lung cancer, whooping cough and tuberculosis can also cause dry cough. This can only be cured by taking proper medications.