Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Dry Coughs - Topic Overview

Dry coughs that continue after other cold symptoms clear or that occur without other symptoms may be caused by a variety of health problems.

Some people start coughing when they breathe very dry, heated air. This can be caused by environmental irritation or allergies. This type of cough may be more noticeable when you first turn on your furnace in the fall, because dust and other irritants that have collected over the summer are blown into the air.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

I’ve Got a Cold: What Can I Do?

There is no cure for the common cold. The most important thing you can do is drink a lot of fluids to keep your body hydrated. This will help prevent another infection from setting in. Avoid drinks like coffee, tea, and colas with caffeine. They may rob your system of fluids. As for eating, follow your appetite. If you're not really hungry, try eating simple foods like white rice or broth. Chicken soup is comforting, plus the steam helps break up nasal congestion. Ginger seems to settle an upset...

Read the I’ve Got a Cold: What Can I Do? article > >

Chronic dry coughs are usually caused by irritation from cigarette smoke, environmental irritants, allergies, postnasal drip, or asthma. Several chronic lung diseases also cause a dry, hacking cough. Some people cough out of habit for no clear reason.

Gastric reflux may also cause a chronic dry cough. Usually you will also have other symptoms, such as heartburn, burning in the throat, or increased saliva.

Less common causes of a dry cough include:

A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    cold weather
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Boy holding ear
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    woman with fever
    Waking up from sleep
    woman with sore throat