A dry cough is most often the result of infection by cold and flu viruses.
It can also be triggered by atmospheric pollutants (such as cigarette smoke) irritating your throat.
In most of these situations, dry coughs occur because the back of your throat becomes irritated or inflamed, but may also arise from deeper in the chest.
Dry Cough Relief
As dry coughs are unproductive, the main focus is relief and/or suppression.
For relief, choose a liquid product that is thick enough to coat and soothe the throat, or a lozenge that dissolves slowly at the back of the throat.
For suppression, active ingredients known as antitussives, such as Pholcodine help stop your urge to cough.
If you have an underlying condition or if your symptoms are severe, you should speak to your pharmacist.
Some ‘Dry Cough’ products will also contain other active ingredients such as:
- A nasal decongestant to help clear a blocked or runny nose (e.g. Phenylephrine hydrochloride).
- An anti-bacterial agent to help a sore throat associated with a dry cough (e.g. Cetylpyridinium chloride).
Congested Dry Cough
A congested dry cough is characterised by a dry irritating cough accompanied with occasional phlegm.
The main focus is to relieve the excess coughing, which can be exhausting, while enabling expectoration of mucus when you do cough.
Some products will contains both a cough suppressant (e.g. Pholcodine), to help reduce the urge to cough and a mucolytic (e.g. Bromhexine hydrochloride) to help loosen and liquefy the mucus so it is easier to expel.
Dry Cough – Other Tips
The following practical advice will also help with relieving a dry cough:
- Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids.
- Bed rest – get plenty of rest so your body can recover.
- Reducing vocal use – try to rest your voice.
- Avoid environmental sources that cause irritation and coughing – e.g. avoid cigarettes and tobacco smoke.