A dry cough is something that everybody experiences at sometime or another during their lives. A dry cough is often used as a polite way to interrupt during social situations or as a way to clear the throat before speaking. People dread the onset of a cough when they are in the theatre or church because there is no way to avoid the need to cough.
The common cold usually begins with a tickle in the back of the throat which leads to a cough. The cold virus is spread through the air and our bodies try and fight the virus from entering into the respiratory system. The cough before the cold sets in is used as a way to dispel the virus. Flu viruses may also cause a dry cough in the beginning.
There are generally no other symptoms during the dry cough period because the body’s defenses are doing what they can to prevent it from taking hold. Bronchitis often starts with a dry cough before it turns into the often times painful wet cough that is needed to get rid of the mucous lining the lungs.
Some existing medical conditions like asthma and GERD may lead to occasional fits of dry coughing. They are not chronic and are usually brought on by a specific trigger like smoking or eating. Cystic fibrosis, emphysema and other respiratory illnesses may begin with a dry cough which slowly develops into a wet cough. A number of heart conditions like pericarditis will include a dry cough. These illnesses should all be treated by a doctor.
Eating habits are another leading cause of dry coughing sensations. Swallowing food or drink that is not palatable will cause a person to begin coughing or sputtering. This is the quickest way to get the food out of the body before it can even enter the digestive system. Food that is overly spiced will make a person start coughing as well.
One of the leading causes of any cough is smoking cigarettes. The deadly toxins in every cigarette are lethal to the human lungs. Beginning smokers will develop a dry cough almost immediately which will turn into a wet cough as the lungs become filled with more sputum as a result of the toxic smoke. Marijuana smoke is another dry cough producer. The cough occurs immediately after inhaling the smoke from the burning plant. A person in the same breathing area as somebody smoking may also begin coughing.
The actual cause of a dry cough can be hard to diagnose. In most cases, it is simply due to breathing in some type of irritating substance. Chemicals, perfume and even some spices may cause a person to reflexively cough. Dust is a very common culprit as well. The dust particles tickle the nerve endings in the airway triggering the body’s defense system to block the particles from entering into the lungs. People that live in arid areas will most likely have some dry coughing bouts. This can be alleviated by keeping a humidifier in the home to add moisture to the air.
When a person inhales any toxins or smoke that may be detrimental to the lungs our body naturally triggers the coughing reflex. When the harmful toxins reach the receptors that are strategically placed throughout the airway path they send a signal to the brain. The brain then closes the upper portion of the larynx, just above the vocal cords.
This will trap the inhaled breath in the lungs. The diaphragm and other breathing muscles press against the lungs creating a tremendous pressure. When the pressure reaches the maximum, the glottis opens up, shooting out a burst of air. The result of this process is a person coughing and hopefully dispelling any germs before they could enter the respiratory system.