Unproductive Cough: How to treat an irritating itch that you can’t scratch

photo taken from begoodorbgoodatit.wordpress.com
photo taken from begoodorbgoodatit.wordpress.com

A dry cough is non-productive and irritating, and sometimes causes a tickly throat.  Your chest isn’t congested, our breathing is all right, and you may feel quite well, apart from the cough.

A dry cough may be the result of a recent head cold or the flu.  This is sometimes called a post-viral cough.  Dry coughs may also be caused by a dry atmosphere, air pollution or a change in temperature.


The cough may also be a sign of other problems, such as asthma, heartburn or stomach acid reflux, heart failure or a side effect of some medicines.  It’s important to tell your health professional all your symptoms and medication history, and it’s always advisable to ask your doctor before taking any new medication.  Here are some treatment tips:

  • Avoid dry environments and drink plenty of water.
  • Gargle with plain-water for one minute, three times a day.  This can ease symptoms.
  • Cough suppressants are best to stop a dry, irritating cough, but if your chest to cough up, such as mucus, then cough suppressants aren’t appropriate such as guaifenesin and bromhexine when you have a dry cough.
  • To get relief from an itchy throat, other treatment options include cough soothers, such as glycerol, honey and syrup.
  • Cough soothers coat the throat to reduce irritation and dryness.  They are contained in cough medicines and some cough lozenges and pastilles.
  • Sucking on lozenges and pastilles produces extra saliva to soothe a cough.  These are safe options for most people but some include sugar, so people with diabetes should choose sugar-free variants.


Medical conditions such as upper respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause a cough. A common type of blood pressure medication called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor can cause a persistent cough in some users. If your cough lasts longer than 2 weeks, if you think your cough is caused by your ACE inhibitor, talk to your doctor. Also seek medical attention if your cough is accompanied by a fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, weight loss, severe fatigue, or you are coughing up thick, greenish-yellow phlegm. If you are coughing up blood, or if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, seek emergency medical care.

Do not give honey to children under the age of 1. Also, speak to your child’s pediatrician before using any OTC cough or cold medications.

Things You’ll Need to make yourself feel better (temporarily relief)

  • Hot teas, lemon water, or broth
  • Honey
  • Humidifier
  • Bowl of hot water
  • Towel
  • Cough lozenges
  • Hard candy
  • Cough suppressant
  • Decongestant
  • Allergy or asthma medications, if appropriate.
Vance Madrid

Freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, social media manager, events coordinator, scriptwriter, film buff, wanderlust and certified foodie. Zealous for a keyboard and new experiences, I wish to live and learn through my writing.