Coughing occasionally is said to be very necessary because it helps in clearing the throat and airways. Cough can be either productive or dry. When a person has dry cough, he or she does not spit out phlegm which accompanies productive cough. When a person experiences bouts of dry cough, also known as unproductive cough, it can be said that he/she has chronic dry cough.
Dry cough may start along with common cold, but if it stays for more than eight weeks, even after one is relieved of the cold, it can be said to be a dry cough. People who are chain smokers are also at a high risk of suffering from such cough. The cause of chronic cough cannot be restricted to only one factor. There are actually many causes that can act as a trigger for this problem.
- One of the very common causes of chronic cough is said to be post nasal drip. When a person is suffering from sinusitis, cold or some allergy, the substance that is secreted by the nose drips into the back of the throat. This leads to post-nasal drip (PND) and if this continues for a long time, it can give rise to chronic dry cough.
- Asthma is also said to be one of the reasons that leads to dry cough. There is a type of asthma known as the cough variant asthma, for which the only symptom is excessive dry cough.
- Dry cough can also be caused due to (GERD). When a person has GERD or acid reflux, the acid present in the stomach runs back to the throat, through the esophagus. This causes irritation in the throat and even in the lungs, which leads to chronic coughing.
- Sometimes, dry cough can be developed due to the intake of certain medications, particularly the ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors. These medicines are usually given to patients of kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure. Though the exact reason as to how these conditions can be the cause of chronic cough is not known, it may be due to certain chemical changes affecting the cough receptors.
- Another cause of such dry cough, although it is very uncommon is lung cancer. People who have quit smoking, but are still experiencing chronic cough, have a high chances of being diagnosed by this disease.
The person having chronic cough may also display certain discomforts like:
- muscle strain
- physical exhaustion
- dry throat
A person suffering with dry cough should immediately consult the doctor, who can determine its exact cause. The physician would ask the patient certain questions like the frequency of the cough and also some other symptoms. He/she may also conduct certain medical tests to find out the precise reason. These may include X-ray of the chest, lung function tests, acid reflux test, etc. Initially, the patient may be given some cough medicines to control the frequent bouts of cough.
However, to completely cure this condition, it is essential to find the root cause of the problem. Only then, it would be possible for a patient to recover fully from having chronic cough. For instance, if the person has cough variant asthma, he/she would be treated in the way asthma patients are treated. Another example would be if a person has gastroesophageal reflux, he/she would be given medications for this and also would have to follow a strict diet as well as change in lifestyle, which includes avoiding foods containing high fats, alcohol, smoking, chocolate, etc.
Dry cough would surely decrease, once its cause is understood. If a person is suffering from it for a long time, it is important to visit the health practitioner, before the underlying problem aggravates leading to grievous situations.