Many people who complain about persistent dry cough, have a hard time identifying the real causes of their symptoms. The normal approach would be to see a variety of specialists (nose, throat, ear, allergy, pulmonology, gastroenterology etc). Some dry cough patients even undergo a psychiatric consultation to rule out the possibility of mental illness.
Here are some dry cough causes with a high occurrence rate:
1. Asthma could have a variety of symptoms, but sometimes they don’t appear all together. This chronic health condition could manifest only in the form of dry cough. A cough-variant asthma is possible, and you have to find out if this is the problem with you, before you rule asthma out.
2. Other lung diseases like tuberculosis, lung cancer or occupational lung diseases like miner’s lung sometimes include dry cough as major symptom. The problem with lung diseases is that they often get diagnosed when the patient’s condition has seriously deteriorated and they become life threatening.
3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD may trigger dry cough due to the irritation of the throat lining. The larynx and esophagus suffer lesions because of the acid reflux from the stomach. The gastroesophageal reflux could occur at night, and during the day you may only suffer from dry cough. Hence it will seem more difficult to make the connection between the two. Yet, this connection exists!
4. Postnasal drainage that usually results in wet or productive cough, could also trigger dry cough. This sometimes happens with allergies and sinusitis sufferers. If the postnasal drainage occurs at night, the patient might not be aware of the condition, as no mucus is eliminated when coughing. The situation resembles that of GERD sufferers a lot.
5. Medications such as blood-pressure drugs have lots of side effects and dry cough could be one of them. The cases of dry cough as adverse reaction to medication have been reported as more numerous for angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
6. Smoking causes a persistent irritation at the level of the lungs. Dry cough translates the body’s effort to eliminate the irritant. Also known as smoker’s cough, the symptom disappears if the sufferer quits smoking. In such cases, the cough becomes productive and worsens at first until the lungs clear away the smoke residues and recovery begins.
Dry cough could be very bothersome, irritating the throat and causing voice hoarseness. Finding the cause of the problem is absolutely essential in order to start a targeted treatment as early as possible. Make an appointment with the doctor and follow all the steps required for diagnosis!
!! See your family practitioner or an internist first, and the MD will determine whether you need to be further referred to a specialist.
!! If the doctor does not check your medical record thoroughly or if he/she just writes you a prescription for some cough suppressing medication, you need to see another specialist.