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How To Treat Dry Hacking Cough: Symptoms And Causes

Dr. Alejandro Junger Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Alejandro Junger on May 3, 2021

There are few sounds more rattling than a dry, hacking cough. No one likes to hear their loved ones hacking over and over, nor do we like to deal with dry, hacking coughs ourselves. To make matters worse, dry coughs seem like they take forever to go away.

While dry coughs can be frustrating to deal with, there are some ways in which you can treat these coughs depending on the cause of the condition. As a physician, advisor and partner of Genexa, the first clean medicine company, I believe it’s important to know what causes dry hacking coughs in both children and adults and some homeopathic remedies you can pursue to alleviate the symptoms and fix the cause.


What is a Dry Cough?

The best way to understand a dry cough is in comparison to a “wet” or productive cough. Productive coughs cause phlegm and mucus, which are often the causes of coughs in the first place, to be shaken out of your esophageal tissue. In other words, wet coughs help your lungs and esophagus clear the way for free airflow.

In contrast, dry coughs don’t produce any mucus. They are usually automatic responses to irritants in the air or on your esophageal tissue. Because dry coughs don’t remove the root cause of the coughing, they often continue for hours without end.

Kids may experience dry coughs more frequently in dry areas or during the winter months, or at night when their esophageal and lung tissue are more likely to be irritated.


Dry Cough Causes

Dry coughs can be caused by a number of environmental contaminants or other issues. Here are some examples:

  • Dry air. Many adults and kids get dry coughs when the air is abnormally dry, as it makes it easy for your esophageal tissue to get irritated and itchy.
  • Allergens or pollutants in the air. As with dry air, any allergens or pollutants can irritate your esophageal tissue and cause spontaneous coughing even though there isn’t any phlegm to remove.
  • Infections. Sometimes your esophagus or lungs can become infected, causing a dry cough in response. In these cases, you may need medication to make sure you treat the core cause of the cough in addition to its symptoms.
  • Mucus overproduction. When you get a cold or the flu, your body may produce more mucus as a response. However, if the mucus is too thick, your coughing may not break the mucus up and get it out.
  • Bad posture when sleeping. Many kids experience dry coughing at night due to the way their heads are positioned on their beds. Tilting the head back causes mucus to flow into the esophagus over time, resulting in dry coughs.

What About a Dry and Hacking Cough?

If your child is experiencing a particularly bad case of dry and hacking coughs, you may wish to see a doctor to determine if there is an underlying condition causing the symptoms. In some cases, your child may have a bacterial infection causing repeated tissue inflammation.

However, a hacking sound is not a cause for concern by itself. Some people just make particularly unsettling hacking sounds when they have a dry cough compared to others.


How to Treat a Dry Hacking Cough in Your Child

Although it can be frustrating for both parents and children to suffer through dry coughs, especially during the nighttime hours, there are multiple ways parents can treat their symptoms. With the right treatment, most dry coughs go away within a few minutes to an hour.

Clean Cough Medicine

One of the best ways to treat any dry cough is through using high-quality, clean medicine. Genexa has an excellent example in their Kids' Cough & Chest Congestion medicine. Unlike many commercial alternatives, this is a simple but effective medicine that only uses symptom-relieving ingredients like dextromethorphan paired with guaifenesin, with only clean inactive ingredients like organic agave syrup and organic blueberry flavor to flavor. No extra synthetic additives, dyes, or flavors!

Kids can take this medicine and see the same results as those promised by brands like Mucinex. Our wholesome medicine can relieve coughs and help to thin mucus over time, making dry coughs become productive, and targeting the root cause of most coughing fits.


A Bedroom Humidifier

If you believe the cause of your or your child’s dry coughing is dry air, your best bet is to purchase a bedroom humidifier. Humidifiers can gradually increase the ambient moisture in the air, making it less likely that your child’s esophagus will be irritated while they sleep.

Humidifiers will progressively increase ambient air humidity so long as they are supplied with more water. They are really good choices for folks who live in dry climates, like desert areas, or for anyone if the winter air is significantly drier than the yearly average.


Hot Beverages

We’d also recommend looking into hot beverages for both you and your child to help ease the throat. Hot beverages can help to soothe inflamed or irritated esophageal tissue, lowering the likelihood of dry, hacking coughs. But they can also sometimes sweep away mucus and help to clear out the airway.

Good choices include herbal tea and even regular hot water.

If you decide to give your child hot tea, be sure to avoid tea with caffeine, especially if it’s before bedtime. Tea with caffeine, like black tea, can cause them to stay up way past their bedtime and it won’t be because of the cough!


Focus on Hydration

Along the same vein, it’s a wise idea to increase your hydration if you suffer from frequent dry, hacking coughs. This is doubly true if your child is the one coughing since kids usually aren’t very good about staying hydrated without some prompting from their parents.

Your throat can easily become irritated if you are dehydrated, leading to dry and hacking coughs even if there isn’t any mucus to clear away. Drinking a glass of water before bed and making sure that your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day could help to alleviate these problems.


See a Doctor if Necessary

Above all else, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor for yourself or your child if dry and hacking coughs don’t go away after trying the above strategies. A dry cough is usually not a cause for concern by itself. But it may indicate a higher likelihood of other issues, like bacterial infections.

Kids in particular can suffer from conditions like Whooping Cough, which is characterized by a distinctive whooping sound and regular hacking coughs. This condition is caused by bacteria and is best dealt with through prescribed medicine recommended by your doctor.


Summary

All in all, dry and hacking coughs can be frustrating to hear and deal with, especially if you have to hear your child endure them as a parent. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can try to alleviate the symptoms of dry coughs and to prevent them from coming back too frequently.

We’d heavily recommend checking out Genexa’s Kids’ Cough and Congestion, which is made from real, clean ingredients and designed for your peace of mind first and foremost.

Genexa also offers tons of other clean medicine choices for kids and adults like -- click here to give your medicine cabinet a reboot with the clean ingredients you need without artificial ingredients you don’t!



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