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Dry Cough

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Five Little Known Causes of Dry Cough

By Dr. Kristie

Are you experiencing an annoying, dry cough? While a dry cough can come from a variety of causes including upper respiratory infections, sinusitis, colds, and flu, and even more serious problems such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and cancer, there are several other dry coughs causes that even your doctor might miss.

If you have a nagging cough that won’t go away, here are some lesser-known causes.


If you have a chronic, dry cough particularly if it’s associated with an itchy throat or eyes, it could be allergies. Although allergies can present with other symptoms such as sneezing and nasal congestion, this isn’t always the case. Try keeping a diary of when you get your symptoms.

If they occur primarily at work, in the home, or when you’re outdoors, it may give an indication as to what you’re allergic to. If allergies appear to be causing you to cough, see our doctor for allergy testing.


Although asthma generally presents with the typical picture of coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness, this isn’t always the case, particularly when the symptoms start as an adult. Asthma may present with only a nagging, dry cough that comes and goes.

If in doubt as to whether asthma is causing your dry cough symptom, see your doctor. He can perform a simple lung function screen to check for asthma.


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Certain medications can cause a dry cough. A well-known class of blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors are notorious for doing this. If you’ve recently been started on a new medication and developed a dry cough soon after, check with your doctor to see if your medication could be the cause.

Low Humidity in your Home

If the interior in your home is low on moisture it can dry out your mucous membranes and cause throat irritation. Try adding a humidifier to your bedroom and see if this improves your dry cough symptom.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

If you develop a dry cough at night, it may be due to GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux. When you lie flat in bed, acid from your stomach can enter your esophagus and irritate your throat if the flap between the esophagus and stomach isn’t working properly.

Sometimes you’ll experience other symptoms such as heartburn or regurgitation or acid, but, in some cases, a dry cough will be the only symptom.

If you’ve experienced the symptom of dry cough for longer than two weeks, it’s important to see your doctor to determine the cause.

Keep these four less readily recognizes causes of a dry cough in mind if you have a persistent, dry cough that won’t go away. Your doctor should be able to give you definitive answers and treatment.

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and master's in clinical Pathology.

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Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.

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