Lady experiencing dry cough symptoms

Learn About Dry Cough: Causes, Symptoms, Home Remedies, and Tips

What is Dry Cough?

A cough is one of the strategies your body uses to rid itself of certain irritants or pathogens. Your cough may be wet or dry, depending on whether it brings up mucus. If your cough is not bringing up any mucus, it is considered a dry cough.

Dry cough symptoms can affect your daily life in a variety of unpleasant ways. For example, you may find that your cough gets worse when you are talking or doing any kind of strenuous activity. You may also find that the cough makes it difficult to eat or drink, and it may also cause you to feel fatigued. In addition, having a dry cough can make it difficult to sleep well at night.

Causes of Dry Cough

A dry cough can be caused by many different factors that we might be unaware of. However, the most common causes of dry cough include:

  • Viral infection - Various viral infections can cause a dry cough. Examples include the common cold and influenza.1,2
  • Postnasal drip - Postnasal drip occurs when excess mucus drips from the nose down the throat. The exposure to mucus can irritate the throat and cause a dry cough.
  • Congestion – when your nose is stuffy and you have difficulty breathing, we tend to breathe through our mouths, causing our throats to dry out and feel irritated. This may trigger dry coughs.3

How to Relieve Dry Cough: Home Remedies and Medication

Dealing with a dry cough can be frustrating. Fortunately, a variety of over-the-counter medications and home remedies exist to provide temporary relief

Home Remedies

Ingredients such as salt, lemon, and honey are easily accessible around the house, and can provide quick, temporary relief. Home remedies for dry cough include: 4

  • Warm drinks with honey - Adding honey to a hot drink, such as tea, can help bring relief by soothing the throat.
  • Using a humidifier - Dry air may aggravate a dry cough. Using a humidifier can add moisture to the air and soothe your cough.
  • Gargling salt water - Gargling warm salt water is another remedy that can improve dry cough and congestion.
  • Warm broth - Drinking some warm broth or soup may provide temporary dry cough relief.

If you have a dry cough, it is also important to avoid anything that could make the cough worse. This includes staying away from dust and air pollutants that may tickle your throat, and avoid smoking or being around people that smoke.5

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are products you can purchase at the drugstore without a prescription. These products provide temporary relief of your symptoms and can help you feel better until you recover.

It is important to choose a product that addresses your needs as not all OTC medicines target the same symptoms. Some medications contain an antihistamine, which is helpful in relieving symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose.6 Products such as BENYLIN® Extra Strength Dry Cough syrup contain dextromethorphan - which suppresses cough to give your throat a break, in addition to other ingredients to relieve cough/cold symptoms.7

When to See a Doctor

If symptoms persist even with medication, it may be time to consult a doctor. Check the labels of the over-the-counter medications you are taking for instructions as to when to stop use and see your doctor.

Having a dry cough can be incredibly frustrating, but the right treatments can help. With a combination of home remedies and over-the-counter medications like BENYLIN®, you can effectively relieve your cough symptoms and get back to enjoying your life.



BENYLIN® products are indicated for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with cough, colds and flu. To be sure any BENYLIN® product is right for your child, always read and follow the label.

IMPORTANT: Give your child ONLY ONE medicine at a time containing acetaminophen.

© Johnson & Johnson Inc. 2021

Sick woman sitting and covering her mouth with her left arm while holding a thermometer in her right hand.

Explore ivy leaf extract, a naturally derived ingredient that helps relieve coughs and chronic bronchitis

Remèdes maison pour la toux
Learn which home remedies bring fast and temporary relief to your cough symptoms!
Lady blowing her nose
Are you having a cold or a sinus infection? Read on to learn the difference in symptoms.
Lady experiencing dry cough symptoms
Do you have a dry cough? Learn about dry cough causes, symptoms, and relief!
Signs & Symptoms of a Sore Throat

If you have a sore throat, you may wonder whether you have a passing irritation or whether it is something more.

BENYLIN® Extra Strength Cough & Chest Congestion Syrup for People with Diabetes and a woman lying in bed and coughing.

Introducing a Sugar-Free Cough & Cold Remedy.