A dry hacking cough is a type of nonproductive cough that is most commonly caused by smoking, asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and colds. People who smoke can sometimes develop a chronic dry cough because of irritants in cigarettes. Some illnesses, such as a cold or bronchitis, can also bring on a this type of cough. A cough caused by asthma or allergies is often a result of irritation in the throat. Coughs caused by an illness usually last for a shorter time than a chronic smokers' cough. There are a number of ways to help treat a dry cough, including suppressant liquids and lozenges, hot tea, and humidifiers.
People who suffer from allergies or asthma might get irritated nasal passages and experience throat tissues more frequently than other people. This irritation could cause a dry hacking cough. Other allergy symptoms could include frequent sneezing, an itchy nose or throat, and watery eyes. Difficulty breathing and wheezing can be symptoms of asthma as well. If a cough is caused by allergies or asthma, it will usually go away when the other symptoms of the illness subside.
Bronchitis is another illness which may sometimes cause a dry hacking cough. A person with bronchitis may have a dry cough as one of the first symptoms of being ill. The dry cough usually turns into a productive cough as the illness progresses, then becomes a dry cough again at the end of the illness. A cough caused by bronchitis can often last for months after other symptoms have gone away. Other symptoms of bronchitis might include wheezing, a slight fever, and tightness in the chest.
A dry hacking cough could also be caused by the common cold and other viral infections. The cold virus can enter the body through the nose and travel to the throat. The cough is one of the body's reactions to the virus — an attempt to expel the virus and prevent infection. As with bronchitis, one of the initial symptoms of a cold might be a hacking cough, and this cough might linger after the other cold symptoms subside.
There are treatment options available for a dry hacking cough. A productive cough might be beneficial because it expels mucus and germs from the body and therefore may not require treatment. If a hacking cough or tickly cough, however, is caused by irritation, it may benefit from treatment. Cough suppressant medication, cough drops, room humidifiers, and hot tea with lemon and honey can all help to treat a cough. Avoiding substances that cause irritation may also help to stop a dry cough.