We all suffer from a cough at some point in our lives, it is one of the most common symptoms in the medical consultation. But, what happens when that cough is dry and so annoying that it disturbs the tranquility, when you cannot sleep because of it or when the solution is not found? Since there are many causes of a persistent dry cough, determining what it is will be the key point to find the solution: is it a symptom of coronavirus, is it just a cold, maybe reflux or can it be something more serious like a tumor?
If you want to know why you have a lot of dry cough that won’t go away and what to do to alleviate it, then keep reading this FastlyHealarticle so you can solve your dry cough attacks.
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Why do I have a dry cough and it won’t go away
Coughing is a reflex that occurs when an irritant is present in any area of the respiratory tract: throat, larynx, lungs. A signal is sent to the brain and from there the signal is sent to produce a sudden expulsion of air in order to eliminate the irritant.
It is said that the cough is dry occurs when there is no mucus to eliminate and the productive cough when there is. A cough that occurs from time to time is not to worry about, it means that our respiratory system is capable of responding if something bothers it, but what happens when that dry cough is persistent and does not disappear? It is time to find out what is happening.
If the dry cough lasts up to 14 days it is said to be acute, if it lasts between 14 days and 8 weeks it is subacute and when it lasts more than 8 weeks it is already chronic. The causes may be different according to the duration of the cough.
Next, we will look at the causes of the most frequent dry cough attacks.
Causes of acute dry cough
Among the most common causes of acute dry cough are:
Common cold or acute rhinopharyngitis
It is the most frequent cause of acute dry cough, after having suffered a cold with a sore throat, transparent mucus and dysphonia, the dry cough occurs, which can last up to 3 weeks without meaning that the picture has worsened.
Among the main symptoms caused by the virus that is causing a global pandemic, is a dry cough , in addition to fever and muscle pain . There may also be a cough with secretions. As we are seeing, it is highly contagious, so it is important to pay attention to isolation measures.
If you think you may have coronavirus, you should call the special phone number that your country or autonomous community has enabled and in no case should you go to the emergency room , since contact with other people should be avoided to stop its spread. The health staff will tell you by phone the measures you must take at all times.
In the following article, we explain in detail how the coronavirus is spread and how to prevent it .
Inhalation of irritants
Breathing fumes, pollen, or some other substance may cause inflammation in the airways . If the contact was only once, the inflammation will subside on its own, but if the irritant continues to be in contact, the inflammation will continue and even get worse.
It may be one of the first symptoms of this disease . Usually, this type of acute pictures will continue to repeat until it becomes even a rather chronic picture, until it is diagnosed and treated as such.
It is not the most frequent, but pneumonia can generate an acute dry cough, generally those of viral cause , although the most frequent is that the cough is with mucus (productive).
When the heart does not pump properly, it can lead to a cough. Although the cough of this disease is usually chronic and productive, acute symptoms may appear at first.
Causes of subacute dry cough
The causes of subacute dry cough can be:
Irritation after viral rhinopharyngitis
As we have said in the previous section, after a cold, a dry cough can occur that can last between 2 and 3 weeks, going from being acute to subacute.
Whooping or whooping cough
The whooping cough is an infection which is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis can be very serious in babies and affects both adults and children. It starts like a cold and after about 10 days, a very bad cough begins that can last between 6 and 10 weeks . There is a vaccine that is given in childhood and then in adults every 10 years and in pregnant women to prevent this disease.
Although the inflammation of the bronchial tubes causes a cough with phlegm, it may be that after taking the antibiotic treatment and it is healing, a dry cough will persist for 1 to 4 weeks.
It can also cause episodes of subacute dry cough. Often they will be accompanied by shortness of breath and high-pitched sounds when trying to breathe deeply.
Most commonly, inflammation of the sinuses causes the cough to contain some mucus. Airway irritation from swallowing mucus may also lead to bouts of dry cough, which will persist until rhinosinusitis is treated.
Causes of persistent or chronic dry cough
A persistent or chronic dry cough lasts more than 8 weeks in an adult, it can be caused by different reasons:
Rhinitis or rhinosinusitis
As we have said, until this inflammation or infection is resolved, attacks of dry (or productive) cough may appear while the airway remains inflamed.
If asthma is not diagnosed, it may lead to chronic shortness of breath or a dry cough.
Irritation of the airway by allergens can cause inflammation of the airway and, although secretions can sometimes be present, other times it can only manifest as a dry cough.
Tobacco smoking can cause a dry cough or a cough with mucus and end up triggering more serious diseases such as chronic bronchitis or tumors. The use of electronic cigarettes has also been associated with problems in the respiratory tract, giving as symptoms, among others, a dry cough.
The rise of acid and content from the stomach to the esophagus and the respiratory tract can generate a variety of symptoms such as: sensation of having something in the throat, hoarseness, dry cough, rhinitis and even recurrent asthma and otitis. That is why it should always be discarded, even when you do not feel that sensation of acidity or vinegar.
It is a common side effect of some antihypertensive drugs such as ACE inhibitors, the most commonly indicated is enalapril. This produces a sensation of dryness in the throat that triggers attacks of dry cough, which can start from a week after starting treatment to 6 months later. The cough improves at the time of suppressing this remedy and changing it for another, but that time is variable and can last up to 6 months.
Other drugs that can cause coughing are: nasal drops, eye drops, beta-blockers, nitrofurantoin.
Diseases that cause fibrosis
Some autoimmune diseases or some chronic lung diseases can end up causing scars in the lung, with which breathing can be difficult or a persistent cough may appear.
Lower respiratory tract tumors can also cause a chronic dry cough.
There is no organic reason for the cough, it usually clears up at night and is more common in people who are under stress or in teenagers.
How to relieve a dry cough
As we have seen, the causes of dry cough are very varied and can last from a few days to many weeks, therefore, it is best to consult your family doctor so that together they can analyze and rule out possible causes of persistent dry cough. Keep in mind that coughing is a good reflex, it should not be overlooked if you do not know why it occurs, because it has a function, which is to clear the airway of irritants.
As general measures to relieve a dry cough, you can implement the following tips:
- Drink enough water : water is essential to stay hydrated and, thus, keep the airway hydrated. This way, the cough won’t be so dry and it won’t bother you as much.
- Avoid consuming syrups and self-medicating : There are times when cough syrups or substances that make mucus more fluid or liquid (such as N-acetylcysteine). These can be counterproductive depending on the cause of the cough, therefore, DO NOT self-medicate.
- Ditch the cigarette , the e-cigarette is not an option: as we have seen, both cause coughing.
- Avoid dairy and gluten : it is more than proven in numerous scientific studies that these substances cause inflammation in the airway.
- Increase the consumption of raw fruits and vegetables : a healthy diet is very important so that you can improve your cough. If your body does not have to use its energy in digestion, it can take care of helping your body to improve its inflammation and diseases. Leave out sugar, meats, processed and prefer fruits and vegetables, nuts, sprouts, seeds. You will see how your cough can start to subside.
Home remedies for dry cough
- Honey : honey is excellent for calming discomfort at the airway level, on the one hand, it “distracts” the cough reflex by stimulating taste and, on the other hand, it is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory substance that helps solve many of airway problems. The ideal is to consume it mixed with warm water and away from meals (1 hour before or 2 after).
- Eucalyptus : eucalyptus is a medicinal plant with excellent properties for the respiratory system, on the one hand, it helps reduce inflammation if ingested as an infusion and if its vapor is inhaled it also deflates and helps keep the airway hydrated and clear.
- Ginger : consumed as a decoction, it is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Fragments of the root should be boiled for 10 minutes and then left to rest covered for another 10 minutes. It can be drunk alone, with lemon and / or honey.
- Lemon : freshly squeezed and away from other foods is great for fighting all kinds of respiratory inflammation.
If, despite the first treatment or taking these measures into account, your cough still does not improve, consult your doctor again to be able to continue studying the cause and be able to find the appropriate solution.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.