Do you have a nagging cough that is driving you crazy? There are many reasons why that dry cough is hanging around, but some of the reasons may indicate that something more sinister lurks inside your body. While you may feel that ignoring this cough is the easiest thing to do, you could be sidestepping a severe medical issue, especially if it won’t go away.

Twelve Signs Your Dry Cough Is Something More Serious

If you’re plagued by a cough that doesn’t seem to be getting any better, then you should see your doctor for a precise diagnosis. Here are some signs that you should call the doctor to see what’s going on.

dry cough
1. You Have Heartburn, Too

Heartburn alone is a difficult problem to combat. However, did you know that a nagging cough can be a sign that you have acid reflux or GERD? When the sphincters between the stomach and the esophagus don’t close properly, it can allow stomach acids to escape into the throat area.

The acids burn the esophagus, which triggers coughing as you struggle to keep these acids from entering this area. According to the National Institute of Health, GERD is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Acid can cause a condition called Barret’s Esophagus if left untreated.

Barret’s Esophagus is often observed in people who have battled GERD for long periods. The intestinal lining gets into the esophagus and grows to replace the damaged tissues. While having this disease is bad enough, it’s often a precursor for cancer.

It’s common for esophageal adenocarcinoma to form from the damages caused by the stomach acids being in places it’s not meant to be. Sadly, this is often deadly cancer. If you always feel like there’s something caught in your throat, and you have frequent bouts of heartburn, then you need to have this issue addressed.

2. There’s a Heaviness in Your Chest

Many things can cause your chest to feel heavy, and you may feel like you have a heart attack. For instance, acid shooting up into this area can cause a burning and heavy sensation.

While things from gas to a pulled muscle can cause uncomfortable sensations in your chest area, you have such a feeling anytime. It must be evaluated. Your dry cough can signify that your heart or lungs aren’t working correctly, which can be a serious issue that needs prompt assistance.

3. You’re Struggling to Breathe

Anytime you’re short of breath or struggling to breathe, it’s always a sign that something is going on. You could have a common cold, an allergy condition,  or heart and lung problems. If the trouble comes and goes along with the cough, then it’s an ongoing issue that indicates an underlying problem.

An article by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute points out that coughing is a primary symptom of asthma. Common triggers include cold air, strong odors, and exercising.

You may experience wheezing, choking, or gasping to catch your next breath. Make sure not to put off emergency help if you cannot breathe properly.

4. You Feel Lightheaded

Do you commonly experience a light-headed feeling, or is this something new? When you’re coughing, do you feel this dizzy sensation, or is it at various other times? Lightheadedness accompanied by a nagging cough can indicate a loss of oxygen to the body, which can mean a heart or lung issue.

If it happens one time, then you might be more apt to let it slide, but if it keeps happening, then see a medical provider. If your oxygen levels are not where they need to be, then you can pass out.

5. You Can’t Stop Coughing

Nothing is worse than starting into a coughing binge and being unable to stop. This is common with croup or other viral infections that bring about this hacking. However, if this keeps happening time and again, then it may indicate a serious underlying problem.

You might suspect a condition like bronchitis when you can’t stop coughing, but bronchitis usually produces mucus, and the cough associated with it is not dry in nature. If you’re having frequent coughing fits, then have it checked out.

6. You’re Unable to Talk or Carry on A Conversation Without Coughing

Do you struggle to carry on a conversation because all you do is cough and struggle for breath? Chronic coughing can be a sign of allergies. However, don’t just pass it off as allergies as it can be 100 other things too. Try not to self-diagnose when it comes to these issues, as the internet only works in generalities.

If you’re coughing so much that it becomes hard to even talk to a friend or family member, then something is majorly wrong. Chronic lung conditions like emphysema and COPD can cause issues of this nature. Additionally, your oxygen levels may be dropping too low, and you’re probably struggling to catch your breath.

honey ginger tea
Make this honey ginger tea to stop coughing immediately.

7. You Cough So Hard You Notice Blood

Some coughing is productive, while others tend to be a nagging annoyance. Whatever you’re facing, one thing that is always a cause for alarm is when you see blood after you cough. Blood is a sign that something is irritated in your breathing system.

Coughing up blood can be a sign of cancer, lung disease, or that you’ve coughed so hard you’ve broken blood vessels. Anytime you cough and see blood, it’s considered an emergency.

8. The Dry Cough Is Seasonally Based

Some nagging coughs show up in the spring and fall seasons when allergies are at their worst. Do you notice that you cough more when the grass is cut or when you’re around fresh flowers?

Your dry and hacking cough can be irritation from your airways. While it’s annoying, it’s not necessarily dangerous. Many herbal remedies can help you combat seasonal allergies with ease.

9. Pink Foam in Your Mucus

Another odd sign that something is wrong is when you cough and pink foam appears in your mouth. One contributor to this is a vagal reflex. This reflex is present when the heart is insufficiently pumping, which means you lack oxygen.

The vagal reflex that causes the dry cough can also be triggered by heart insufficiency. Pink foam or a pink tinge to anything you cough up must be treated as an emergency. You may notice a heaviness in your chest and shortness of breath along with this symptom.

Don’t delay getting because, according to the National Institute of Health, the vagal reflex can cause you to have a heart attack or reflex bradycardia.

10. Your Feel Like There’s Something in Your Throat

Coughing is a natural reaction from the body to clear the throat area. It’s not uncommon for people to inhale something into their windpipe that impedes airflow. Now, your airflow may be slowed but not stopped, so you must be careful.

If you get something like a piece of a potato chip stuck in your throat, then it can irritate or cut the area. You may cough and hack trying to remove this section of food that’s lodged in your esophagus. Even after you expel the food, the irritation can last–especially if it damaged the tissue.

Now another reason why you may feel that sensation stems from a condition called atypical pneumonia.

Unlike traditional pneumonia, atypical doesn’t produce any mucus or phlegm. With regular pneumonia, the cough is very productive as the body is trying to rid the infection from the lungs. You can still have pneumonia and have a dry, unproductive cough, which means you should take any chronic coughing issue seriously.

11. Throat Is Sore with Dry Cough

Is your throat sore when you cough? Do you feel as if it’s dry and scratchy, and it burns with every drink you take? A couple of things can be going on here. First, you may have a bacterial or viral infection that’s causing this issue.

Second, you may be experiencing seasonal allergies. Postnasal drip can go down the back of your throat and irritate the lining. A natural reflex may cause your coughing as the throat is scratchy and raw, and the body feels as if something is stuck.

12. You Have a Fever and Ache All Over

Does your dry cough come with a fever and aching, and chills all over your body? You may have the flu. While sometimes the flu is accompanied by an upper respiratory condition, many times it isn’t. Your coughing and hacking could be caused by the overall sickness your body is attempting to thwart.

Additionally, there are many viruses out there that can cause a dry cough. Tuberculosis is a severe lung condition that can kill you. It’s not as common these days as before, but it’s still a concern in underdeveloped countries. Lastly, you can have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

dry cough
Final Thoughts on Knowing When a Dry Cough Might Point to Trouble

When you have a chronic and unproductive cough, it can worry when it lingers for more than a couple of weeks. A pulmonologist should be consulted for any such occurrences, especially if you smoke cigarettes or have previously. The common cold almost always produces mucus and phlegm, but when the cough is dry, it’s a whole different ballgame.