According to WebMD.com, coughs are the body’s way of eradicating mucus and foreign matter from the respiratory system and upper airway passages. Although coughs are often beneficial, dry hacking coughs are generally unproductive and can cause discomfort and even pain. Luckily, a dry hacking cough is easy to identify and relatively simple to treat.
A patient who suffers from a dry hacking cough experiences prolonged bouts of coughing and a sensation that the throat is dry or scratchy. In addition, these coughing spells may come on sporadically, and often no mucus or material is discharged from the throat. The patient may also feel as though his throat is especially dry.
Dry coughs can be caused by a multitude of conditions, including viral illnesses, allergies, exposure to dust or chemicals, asthma and blockage of the airways. A dry hacking cough may also be a symptom of the common cold, whooping cough, laryngitis, lung cancer, asbestosis or an upper-respiratory tract infection.
To treat a dry hacking cough, it is essential to prevent dehydration by consuming 8 or more glasses of water a day. Fluids help to thin mucus sections and smooth the interior of the throat. Drinking hot water, tea or lemon juice with honey may help soothe an irritated throat, though it is essential not to give honey to children under the age of 1 year. In addition, using cough drops help to rehydrate and soothe irritated throats, and elevating the head with a pillow at night will also help to reduce the frequency of dry coughs. Exposure to inhaled irritants, including smoke, dust and pollen, should be avoided if possible, and the patient should refrain from smoking. In addition, expectorants or suppressants–sold in pharmacies and most grocery stores–may help relieve a hacking cough. Expectorants, such as Robitussin, Mucinex or Vicks 44E, help to thin and liberate mucus so that it can be coughed up. Suppressants aid in controlling and suppressing the cough reflex if you feel no mucus is present in the throat. Room humidifiers may also aid in hydrating the lungs and throat.
Dry hacking coughs that last for 3 days or more may be a symptom of a larger issue, including asthma, so it is important to check with your physician if you experience additional asthmatic symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing or tightness in the chest.
Cough Medicine Precautions
Cough medicines may cause serious complications in patients who suffer from asthma, heart failure, glaucoma, high blood pressure or an enlarged prostate, so it is important to check with a pharmacist or physician before beginning a new medication. Cough medicines should also be used with caution in patients over the age of 60 or those with additional respiratory problems. It is also very important to read the label on medicine bottles, as doses and strengths vary.