Irritable Cough (Dry Cough)

By | June 8, 2022

In contrast to the normal wet cough, the dry cough usually occurs without sputum (cough mucus) and is therefore also considered a so-called “dry cough”. The coughing fits that often occur with it usually sound barking and hard. The dry, irritating cough usually occurs at the beginning of a cold, but then changes to a normal cough with sputum over the course of the day. But even with various lung diseases, the dry cough can cause symptoms as a symptom.

What is hacking cough (dry cough)?

A dry cough without sputum is called a dry cough. It is characteristic of many different diseases and can also occur as a side effect of drug treatment. The irritating cough varies in its intensity: Some affected patients only cough and have no pain, while others cough day and night and thus not only have breathing difficulties but also sleep disturbances. For meanings of fear of heights, please visit


In most cases, a dry cough is disease-related and can be characteristic of the underlying disease. Smoker ‘s cough, for example, brings with it a strong dry cough that only becomes a cough with sputum at certain times of the day. However, it can also occur in asthma and, among other things, cause the typical breathing difficulties.

In the most harmless case, the dry cough is only due to the onset of a cold – the infection has not yet produced any sputum, but the mucous membranes are already irritated by the foreign invaders and want to get rid of them, which is why the cough is triggered. In some cases, a dry cough can also develop after a cold, as the mucous membranes do not yet realize that the illness is over, or are still irritated and try to get rid of every pathogen immediately.

In the worst case, the dry cough can also be a serious illness such as whooping cough or a drug-induced phenomenon – ACE inhibitors are known for this.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A dry cough usually has fairly clear symptoms that are perceived as very painful by the person affected. Probably the most common symptom of an existing dry cough is a strong and permanent scratching in the throat area. Coughing up with a dry cough is very difficult and occurs more often at night.

This can lead to significant sleep disturbances. In addition, a strong formation of mucus occurs, so that it is extremely difficult for affected persons to breathe. Chest pain is also one of the clear and typical symptoms that can occur in connection with a dry cough. Anyone who does without medical and drug treatment for a persistent dry cough exposes themselves to a great risk.

The symptoms already described will significantly worsen, so that there may even be inflammation in the lungs. However, if you decide early on for appropriate treatment, you can count on a quick and smooth recovery. The symptoms will subside after a few days and the affected person will find it much easier to cough up.

A dry cough is often a lengthy affair that is accompanied by typical symptoms. These are usually painful symptoms that can only be eliminated by appropriate medication.


In most cases, the dry cough subsides after a few days and goes away together with the other cold symptoms. However, in some patients, the dry cough can become chronic, increasing the risk of complications. Smokers are particularly at risk for side effects. If tobacco use is the reason for the dry cough, the therapy is usually much more difficult.

The most common complications of a dry cough include stabbing chest pains and headaches. Sometimes the dry cough is also responsible for the development of nosebleeds. Even bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes are possible.

It is not uncommon for the dry cough to be accompanied by hoarseness or a sore throat (pharyngitis). In some patients, these symptoms are only triggered by the cough. The voice sounds soft, pressed and rough. Sometimes she even stays away completely.

A dreaded complication in women is urinary incontinence. Those affected pass urine when they cough without wanting to. In severe cases, the dry cough is responsible for a hernia or diaphragmatic hernia. Another consequence is cough syncope, which causes sufferers to faint from coughing fits.

The reason for this is a spasm of the diaphragm, which impedes the flow of blood back towards the heart. For this reason, the brain temporarily receives too little sugar and oxygen, which in turn can result in brief unconsciousness.

When should you go to the doctor?

A dry cough is a very dry cough that is very difficult to cough up. Often, however, a cough is not an independent clinical picture, but rather a symptom of an existing disease. If there is no noticeable improvement after three to four days, an appropriate doctor should always be consulted. A specialist doctor can identify the cause of the dry cough and initiate appropriate treatment. For example, thick green mucus is a sign of inflammation in the airways. In such a case, medical and drug treatment is required.

The dry cough can be treated quickly and effectively with anti-inflammatory drugs. If the sick person does not receive such treatment, the symptoms can worsen or last a few days longer. In some cases, it can even lead to pneumonia.

Treatment & Therapy

In order to be able to treat the dry cough effectively, it must first be clarified where its causes lie. If it is a legacy of a cold that has been overcome, a mild antitussive is usually prescribed to counteract the dry cough and provide the patient with long-term relief.

Even with asthma, it only helps to treat the symptom of dry cough to improve the quality of life in difficult times of the year. The treatment of other forms of dry cough is more complicated – the prime example of this is the form induced by long-term cigarette smoke. If the dry cough occurs, the condition is already chronic and the only thing left to do is try to improve the patient’s quality of life despite the chronic condition.

If, on the other hand, the cause of the dry cough is medication, an alternative to medication should be sought that is symptom-free and more comfortable for the patient.


The best way to prevent a dry cough and a dry cough is to stay away from cigarettes and other similar stimulants, and also not to passively inhale the smoke. In this way, a chronic dry cough can no longer develop, which occurs one day and never disappears again, but in the worst case only increases in intensity.

However, a dry cough can always occur as a result of a cold or asthma – the only effective way of preventing this is to protect yourself effectively against colds and, if you already have asthma, to seek the help of a doctor if the dry cough occurs for the first time or again.

In principle, the doctor should be consulted immediately if a dry cough occurs – this is especially true if you are taking medication and the symptom was not there before or was not expressed to the same extent. In order to prevent a worse dry cough, the medication should be adjusted and better optimized to the needs of the patient.


In addition to a cold, a cold is often accompanied by a dry cough. However, a dry cough can also represent an independent clinical picture. As long as the symptoms do not last longer than one to two weeks or there is a significant deterioration, a dry cough does not require further follow-up care. Nevertheless, the symptoms must be treated medically, since a pronounced dry cough can be very stressful for the patient, especially during the night’s sleep.

Herbal medicines such as sage lozenges, cough tea and cough syrup offer relief to those affected. Taking cough suppressants before bed is also an appropriate treatment. If the dry cough persists for more than two weeks, follow-up care makes sense to avoid a chronic course of the disease.

If medication was previously prescribed and there is still no improvement, further investigations are necessary to get to the bottom of the actual cause. If the symptoms are due to bronchitis, for example, they will be treated as part of the aftercare and the healing process will be monitored by the general practitioner. The only follow-up care that the patient can take after a hacking cough is to avoid damp, cold weather and keep the neck warm with the help of kerchiefs or scarves.

Home remedies & herbs for dry cough

  • Anise helps against flatulence, cough phlegm, asthma and white flow and ensures a good night’s sleep.
  • Cough tea is prepared as follows: 5 grams each of buckhorn, lungwort, coltsfoot, wool flower, aniseed, liquorice, hibiscus roots and 10 grams of Icelandic moss.
  • Another cough tea is made from half a tablespoon of liquorice, half a tablespoon of violet roots, a tablespoon of marshmallow roots, half a tablespoon of coltsfoot leaves, half a tablespoon of wool flowers and just as much aniseed. From this mixture they then make a cup of tea from a teaspoon. Best sweetened with honey.
  • Regular consumption of apple cider helps against a dry cough: Boil the juice of sour apples with sugar and fennel and take it slowly.
  • For coughs, honey milk works very well in mild cases. Dissolve a tablespoon of honey or fennel honey in a cup of hot milk. Drink one cup as hot as possible in the morning and one in the evening.
  • Pine honey is a good expectorant cough medicine. The blossoms of the spruce are mixed with sugar.
  • Lilac blossoms are very diaphoretic, antipyretic and work against dry coughs and colds.
  • Mallow tea is a good remedy for colds and dry coughs.
  • Coltsfoot has an appetizing effect and helps with dry coughs, congestion and hoarseness.
  • If you have a stubborn dry cough, sweeten the boiled marjoram tea with honey and drink it in sips in the morning, at noon and in the evening. This is particularly suitable for children.

You can do that yourself

A dry, hacking cough is very annoying and has a negative effect on a restful night’s sleep. In addition to drug therapy, there are various self-help strategies and home remedies that can relieve the dry cough and support healing:

Sucking on cough drops and lozenges stimulates the flow of saliva. They often contain Iceland moss or marshmallow extracts, the mucilage of which lies protectively over the irritated mucous membranes and thus relieves itching in the throat. Warm milk with honey or fennel honey has the same effect. These can be taken just before bedtime.

An important self-help measure for a dry cough is increased fluid intake. It should be about 2 – 3 liters of liquid, preferably water or tea (no chamomile tea, this dries out the mucous membranes further), to prevent the mucous membranes from drying out and to support the secretion of the protective liquid film in the airways. Increased humidity should also be ensured during the night’s rest. For this purpose, special air humidifiers can be used or damp cloths can be hung up. In heavily heated rooms, bowls of water can be placed on the radiators.

In addition to steam baths and inhalation with z. B. table salt or thyme, warm potato wraps for the upper body have proven successful.

Smoking and excessive physical exertion should be avoided if you have a dry cough.

Irritable Cough (Dry Cough)