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Scratchy Throat and Dry Cough

A scratchy throat along with a dry cough is a common condition experienced by most of us, which happens due to inflammation or irritation in the throat or lungs, especially during the winters. Let's have a look as to what its causes are, and what can be done to deal with this condition.
Kanika Khara
Last Updated: Apr 3, 2018
A scratchy throat accompanied with dry cough can be caused due to a number of reasons. If it is due to an irritant, or because of a mild infection, it will subside in a few days. If it persists longer, then it could be a serious concern, and will require a visit to the doctor for further diagnosis and relevant treatment.
Symptoms of this condition mainly include dryness or itchiness in the throat, a scratchy feeling and a burning sensation in the throat, frequent coughing which may or may not be accompanied by headaches, fever, difficulty in swallowing, lumps in the throat, and a runny nose.
Main Causes
  • Allergies: Dust, pollen grains, mold, pet hair/fur, house dust mites, etc., are some common allergens that cause the body to react towards them, and cause soreness in the throat due to the coughing.
  • Viral Infections: Common cold, a contagious, viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by rhinoviruses is the most common cause for a scratchy throat and dry cough. This cold is primarily accompanied by a running nose and sneezing, which may cause a sinus infection that may further lead to a sore throat. Influenza, caused by either influenza A or influenza B viruses is also commonly known to cause the above symptoms. Other viral infections that cause these symptoms are chickenpox, measles and infectious mononucleosis.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections like whooping cough, brucellosis, infection with Streptococcus bacteria cause a sore throat due to the coughing. Streptococcus infections can be life-threatening. Special attention should be paid to the symptoms.
  • Air Pollution: The presence of harmful gases and chemicals in the atmosphere lead to air pollution that causes irritation or congestion in the throat. Exposure to tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes, etc., can also affect the throat.
  • Breathing Through the Mouth: People with sleep apnea often sleep with their mouth open, as they are unable to breathe properly through the nose. Polyps in the nose, sinusitis, nasal congestion, and many other conditions cause a person to breathe through the mouth, and the artificially warmed air indoors during winter induces soreness in the throat and bouts of coughing.
  • Other Causes: Viral or bacterial infections, smoking, alcohol, spicy foods, straining of the vocal cords, change in the weather, a throat surgery, etc., are some other factors that may lead to this condition.
Treatment Options

For viral infections, antibiotics are ineffective. The only thing that can be done is to take adequate rest. The body is able to deal with these infections on its own, in a healthy person.
Bacterial infections like those caused by streptococcus require immediate attention. Various antibiotics like Penicillin V, Amoxicillin, Cloxacillin, the cephalosporin group of antibiotics like Cephalexin, Cefixime, and the macrolide antibiotics (Erythromycin, Azithromycin) are used to treat streptococcal infections. Surgical removal of nasal polyps automatically gets rid of the tendency to breathe through the mouth.
Gargling with hot saline water 3 - 4 times a day is effective in relieving a sore throat. Drinking warm ginger and honey tea 2 - 3 times a day also helps a great deal. To prepare this, boil water, add tea and a few pieces of freshly cut ginger roots to it. Now bring it to boil, drain it in a mug, and then add honey and lemon juice to taste.
Over-the-counter cough syrups are also effective in providing relief from constant coughing. Some of these cause drowsiness, hence, it advisable to have them before going to bed. Increasing vitamin C intake, inhaling steam, avoiding spicy or oily food, etc., are some other ways to treat this problem.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for medical advice.