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Difference Between Dry and Wet Cough

coughDry cough vs Wet cough

When a person has a cough, it can either be a productive (wet) cough or a non productive (dry) one. The symptoms of the two conditions are entirely different and they are caused by different reasons. As a result, the treatment for the conditions will also be entirely different. Let’s take a look at the main differences between a dry and wet cough.

A dry cough feels itchy and dry on your throat. It may be continuous and increase when you are in a dry atmosphere, for instance, an air conditioned room. A wet or productive cough is one where mucous or phlegm is produced, together with the cough. There is little or no itching involved. Your throat or chest may ache from the effort, but it usually does not feel dry.

The reason behind dry and wet coughs is also different. When your respiratory system is attacked by a foreign body, whether it is an allergen or a pathogen, the respiratory system produces sticky and thick mucus that traps the foreign body. This mucous is released during a wet cough. What happens in a dry cough? Well, the mucous in a dry cough is usually so viscous or so little that it cannot be expelled during a cough. That is what creates a dry cough.

It is important for you to remember that though most coughs are caused by infections, there may be a separate reason for it. This may range from anything between allergies to a heart condition.

A dry cough can be caused by a cough variant asthma, medications like ACE inhibitors or even GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease. In this disease, the acid that is usually present in the stomach is passed on to the throat when the person is asleep or in an otherwise horizontal position. This causes the throat to become dry, without the person even being aware of what’s going wrong!

A dry cough may also be the result of postnasal drainage in case of allergies and sinusitis.

There are a number of reasons behind a wet cough. The most important among these may be a common cold, an upper respiratory tract infection, pneumonia, bronchitis or emphysema. It may also result from the presence of a foreign body in the lung. In rare cases, a wet cough is indicative of a more serious condition.

Dry coughs are mainly treated with antitussives, because they suppress the cough. Wet coughs are usually treated with expectorants that soften the mucus and help in expelling it.

Summary:

1.  A dry cough refers to a cough that does not expel mucus and results in a dry and itchy throat. A wet cough results in the expelling of mucus.
2. A dry cough is the result of little mucus in the respiratory tract, or a mucus that is too viscous to be expelled
3. A dry cough may be the result of an infection or an allergy. It is treated with antitussives. A wet cough may be indicative of an infection or other serious conditions. It is treated with an expectorant.


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9 Comments

  1. Great description. Very easy to understand.

  2. IS IT NOT POSSIBLE TO HAVE DRY COUGH AND A LITTLE STICKY PHLEGM?SOME DOCTORS SAYS IF YOU HAVE DRY COUGH YOU WONT HAVE PHLEGM AT ALL,SOME SAYS DRY COUGH SOMETIMES CAUSE OR HAVE A LITTLE STICKY PHLEGM WHICH YOU CANNOT BRING OUT OR COUGH OUT.OR COULD BE SOME DOCTORS ARE STILL COULD BE WRONG FOR WHAT THEY UNDERSTAND?

  3. The description was really useful………… Wonderfully explained.!!!!!

  4. A cough can be wet and non-productive. The issue of productive does not refer to the presence of wet congestion, rather, whether or not it is being expectorated.

  5. no doubt….. this is a great help……..

  6. Usually peoples are not reading the description’s of cough syrup label,they are indicating about productive cough & dry cough(non productive).But entirely this article so beneficial………….dude

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