Coughing is a natural way to get things out of the throat and lungs. Rarely should you worry about an occasional dry cough, but a cough that won’t go away could be a sign of a more serious health problem.
A cough that does not bring up any phlegm or mucus is dry or sometimes tickly. Most of the time, a dry cough is caused by irritation in the throat. This can make the throat tickle.
Doctors often call coughs that don’t make any mucus “dry coughs.” A wet, or productive, cough, on the other hand, brings up phlegm, which helps clear the airways of things that are making them hurt.
Coughs can be either short-term or long-term, according to doctors. The American Lung Association says that a cough is chronic if it goes on for more than 8 weeks.
In this article, we talk about some of the things that could cause a dry cough and how to treat it. We also talk about how to tell when to see a doctor and how to diagnose the problem.
Do you have a cough, fever or runny nose?
— CDC (@CDCgov) March 3, 2020
What Causes It?
A cough is meant to keep you safe. It gets out things like dirt or food that don’t belong in your lungs and windpipe. Here are some of the most common ones.
- Viruses: Most of the time, it’s because of a cold or the flu. “Productive” coughs are annoying, but they help you get germy mucus out of your lungs when you are sick. Most will go away in a few days. But some “dry” coughs can last for weeks after a cold. That might be because coughing makes your lungs feel bad, which makes you cough more, which makes your lungs feel bad, etc.
- Allergies and Asthma: If you have them, breathing in a trigger-like mould can make your lungs overreact. They’re trying to get what’s bothering them out of their systems.
- Irritants. Even if you’re not allergic, things like cold air, cigarette smoke, or strong perfumes can set off a hacking spell.
- Postnasal drip: When you have a stuffy nose, mucus drips into your throat and makes you cough. Postnasal drip can be caused by a cold, the flu, a sinus infection, allergies, and other things.
- Acid Reflux: When you have heartburn, stomach acid comes back up into your throat, especially at night. They can make you cough by irritating your windpipe, vocal cords, and throat.:
- COPD: This includes Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Chronic Obstructive Asthma, which are all very serious conditions. These illnesses weaken the tubes in your airway (bronchial tubes) and the tiny sacs (alveoli) that move oxygen into your blood and get rid of carbon dioxide. COPD is most often caused by people who smoke cigarettes.
- Other causes: There are a lot of other things that can cause it, like lung inflammation, sleep apnea, and drug side effects. Check out coughs that won’t go away to make sure you don’t have something else wrong.
What Can You Do to Treat It?
That depends on the cause. Options include:
- Medicines. Over-the-counter cough remedies can help in several ways. Suppressants lessen your urge to cough. Expectorants thin mucus and make it easier to hack up.
- Home remedies. You can drink warm fluids, inhale warm, moist air, and use cough drops. Add a spoonful of honey to hot tea, or choose a cough drop that has it. Never give honey to a child under a year old it can make them very sick.
- Avoid triggers. If you have allergies or asthma, remove allergens from your home. Keep pets out of your bedroom. Use air conditioners to filter air during the pollen season. You won’t see the effects right away, but if you stay away from what bothers you, you’ll start to feel better.
- Treatment for another problem. Coughs triggered by asthma, acid reflux, COPD, and other medical conditions need special treatment often medicine. Talk to your doctor.
- Time. Common viruses are the most likely cause. Sometimes, the cough can last weeks or months after the virus is gone. Over time your airways will heal and the cough will stop.
When to See a Doctor
Most coughs that don’t go away are harmless. But you can’t just figure out what’s going on. After a week, you should call your doctor if your cough isn’t getting better.
See them as soon as you can if your cough is getting in the way of your daily life or work, or if it’s accompanied by any of the following:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Ongoing heartburn
- Coughing up blood
- Fever or night sweats
- Trouble sleeping
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