What Are the Treatments for a Dry Hacking Cough?

By Taylor DiVico

A dry, hacking cough can result from a variety of ailments with symptoms manifesting as chronic hacking spasms, a tickle in the throat, tightness of the chest, and a lack of mucus or phlegm. An array of homeopathic and traditional methods are available for treating and soothing the inflammation and discomfort associated with an unproductive chronic cough.

Moisten the Airways

Breathing in steam from a hot shower or pot of boiling water moistens the dry mucus membranes associated with a hacking cough, soothing a tickle and sore throat. For optimum inhalation, cover the head with a towel while standing over the steaming water and inhale the steam through long, deep breaths. This technique keeps the vapors of the steam localized to the airways.

Use a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the air. A vaporizer creates a warm steam, whereas a humidifier creates a cool mist. Both appliances use water to emit moisture into a room. Breathing in vapor or mist while sleeping provides prolonged moistening of dry mucous membranes and helps to open the airways for easier breathing.

To further treat throat soreness and coughing, add 10 droplets of an essential oil such as; peppermint, eucalyptus, or thyme to a pot of water or to the water in a vaporizer. Bring the water to a boil and inhale the steam of the mixture repeatedly. The expectorant properties found in the cool menthol of the oils will coat the throat with natural mucilage, soothing dryness and adding moisture.

Suppress the Cough

Stay hydrated by drinking large amounts of fluids. Lemon and honey have natural anti-inflammatory qualities that help to ease irritation and soreness caused by chronic dry coughing. Make a natural suppressant by adding 1 tbsp. of honey or lemon to water or tea. The vitamin C content found in orange juice and lemon-water mixtures works as a natural antibiotic, fighting infection while easing the discomfort of a tickle.

Suck on menthol lozenges and mints throughout the day to keep moisture in the mouth and throat. The soothing ingredients relieve soreness in the throat by producing a cooling sensation.

Use a liquid, tablet or lozenge antitussive. Antitussives work to suppress the body's natural reflex to cough, preventing chronic coughing while awake or asleep. The initials DM will be included on labels of cough suppressants containing the antitussive ingredient dextromethorphan.

Make sure to differentiate between daytime suppressants and nighttime ones, as many evening cough medicines can cause drowsiness resulting from the antihistamine diphenhydramine. Consult with a pharmacist for further assistance and questions regarding side effects and ingredients.

Get a Doctor's Diagnosis

A dry hacking cough that persists beyond two weeks or resurfaces periodically may be the result of a more serious medical condition and you may need prescription medications. It is best to consult with a doctor if symptoms worsen or do not subside.

Keep a log of symptoms, monitoring times and places in which they tend to worsen. Narrow down possible causes of a dry cough by staying aware of irritants within daily surroundings. Share your findings with your doctor so he may better pinpoint the cause of the cough and prescribe an inhaler or antihistamine to treat it.

Avoid common environmental or seasonal triggers such as dust, mold, pollen, smoke and pet dander. In the case of allergies and asthma, the onset of a dry cough can occur when in contact with an allergen.

Be prepared and preventative with doctor-prescribed allergy and asthma medications, and follow directions given by the doctor. Know that corticosteroids are preventative medicines that reduce the degree of irritation caused by allergens, further decreasing the chances of a dry cough allergic reaction. Bronchodilators open the airways, allowing for easier breathing and can relieve a dry cough caused by respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

Diagnosing the cause of a dry, hacking cough is important in effectively treating and suppressing it. Seek professional medical advice for a hacking cough that is not the mild result of a cold, virus or minor allergic reaction, as there may be an underlying condition in need of treatment.