This article is about Dry Cough - that common cough which can come at any time, can cause immense distress during the day to you as well as people around you, and sometimes keep you awake at nights!
What are the common causes?
POST NASAL DRIP - Nasal allergies, nasal infections, enlarged adenoids are some of the commonest causes of a post nasal drip- there is constant irritating secretions from the nose and nasopharynx which causes cobblestoning of the throat mucosa leading to constant irritation in the throat and a cough.
GASTRO OESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISORDER (GERD)/ LPR - Though GERD and LPR (Laryngol Pharyngeal Reflux) are slightly different disorders, it is now well understood that acidity and reflux are a common cause of chronic dry cough. These patients normally have a cough that is worse on lying down. They will typically complain of a choked and dry throat on waking up in the morning.
ASTHMA - As yet undiagnosed Asthma can cause a dry cough. This cough is usually seasonal - during spring and autumn typically and is associated with breathing difficulty and wheezing may be heard.
UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS - URTI which are usually Viral in origin, cause glandular hyperplasia, increasing mucus secretion. They also inflame the mucosa leading to cough.
There are other causes as well, including smoking, exposure to the polluted and smoky environment, lung cancer, Interstitial lung disease etc.
What Should I Do?
Initially, if symptoms are just a mild dry cough you may try home remedies including steam inhalation etc. You may also use over the counter simple cough suppressants.
In case the cough persists, kindly have yourself checked out. The doctor, after examining you, may like to ask for some investigations like a blood count, allergy testing, Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT) and an X-Ray of the chest if indicated.
Report early if:
- There is bloodstained secretion/ cough
- Cough associated with breathlessness
- Cough with high fever and constitutional symptoms
- Cough with Chest pain
- Cough in a Chronic Smoker
Remember - Cough is a protective human reflex to get rid of unwanted secretions/ foreign body etc. It may be a symptom but is not a disease by itself.
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