ZocdocAnswersWhat should I take for a dry cough?

Question

What should I take for a dry cough?

A dry cough has been nagging me for weeks. No flem or mucus or nothing. What do I take for it?? Just something over the counter or doctor medication?

Answer

I recommend that you go see an ENT (Ears Nose Throat physician) because I think that they will be able to help sort out your cough. The two leading causes of chronic dry cough are asthma and reflux. You mention that this cough has been going on "for weeks", but don't mention anything about how it started. Was the onset following an upper respiratory infection? It is not entirely uncommon for a cough to persist for many weeks, and even months after a "cold". What happens is there is initially inflammation or mucous build-up that causes a cough due to the virus ("cold"). Occasionally people develop maladaptive laryngeal behaviors that perpetuate cough due to inflammation from the vocal folds banging into each other (even after the virus has totally gone). Also I mentioned reflux as one of the most common causes of chronic dry cough...any stomach acid that is able to reflux through the esophagus up to the larynx is very irritating to the larynx (voice box) and can cause the sensation that there is something stuck in your throat (causing a chronic cough). An ENT will be able to take a thorough history, and do a good physical exam, including a laryngeal exam to let you know if any of these things are going on. I hope this is helpful, and I wish you all the best.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.