Dry Cough With Pain In Chest- Symptoms, Causes, And Home Remedies

Dry Cough With Pain In Chest

Cough is not a disease but a physiological protective mechanism whose function is to clear the respiratory tract of excessive secretions and foreign bodies.

The cough happens when anything like a foreign body, micro-organisms, irritants, fumes, vapors or cold air irritates nerve endings of the respiratory tract called "receptors". You may have a cough even if you don't have any serious respiratory illness.

This article will let you know in brief about the causes and symptoms of dry cough with pain in the chest along with home remedies for dry cough.

What Is A Dry Cough?

Cough can be explained as deep inspiration followed by an expulsive or explosive force of expectoration against a closed glottis followed by a restorative expectoration.

Based on duration, cough can be classified as;

  • Acute- Lasting for less than 3 weeks and is commonly due to an acute respiratory tract infection
  • Sub-acute- Lasting longer than 3 weeks
  • Chronic- Lasting longer than 8 weeks

Generally coughing is associated with expectoration. As the name suggests, dry cough is a cough in which mucous production or expectoration is absent.

Dry Cough Causes

Some of the common causes of dry cough are;

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Bronchial asthma is one of the most common causes of persistent cough among adults
  • Exposure to respiratory tract irritants like chemicals, vehicular emissions, vapors
  • Upper respiratory tract infections like common cold, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis
  • The initial phase of pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Tropical eosinophilia
  • Compression of the trachea (windpipe)
  • Interstitial fibrosis
  • Bronchogenic carcinoma
  • Cardiac failure
  • Functional or Idiopathic cough- Where the cause of cough cannot be identified

Dry Cough Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of dry cough correspond to the underlying cause for the same. Some common symptoms include;

  1. "Post-nasal drip"- Post nasal drip can occur due to the irritation or inflammation of the upper respiratory tract
  2. The patient may complain of a tickling sensation in the throat
  3. The patient may also experience frequent attempts to clear the throat
  4. There may also be hoarseness of voice with or without wheezing

What Causes Dry Cough With Chest Pain?

Causes for dry cough and chest pain may be;

1. Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a chronic respiratory condition in which the patient experiences cough with expectoration for 3 months in a year for 3 consecutive years. Patients may also complain of dry cough at night along with chest pain when coughing.

2. Bronchial Asthma

Asthma is a condition in which the airways are inflamed, narrow, and swelling and produces excess mucus making it difficult for the person to breathe.

3. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an acute infection of one or both lungs caused by microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The air sacs get filled with fluid or pus resulting in shortness of breath.

4. Pericarditis

This is inflammation of the fibrous sac surrounding the heart due to viruses or bacteria. The condition is characterized by a sudden, sharp stabbing pain in the chest of a short duration which is worse than lying down or deep inspiration.

5. Costochondritis

This condition is an inflammation of the cartilage which connects the ribs to the sternum (breastbone). Patients usually complain of pain on touch or pressure over the affected rib and chest pain on coughing or deep inspiration.

Home Remedies For Dry Cough And Chest Pain

Treatment of cough is aimed towards treating the underlying cause. Home remedies work as a strong adjunct to conventional treatment. Some home remedies that are easily available and work wonders for several conditions resulting in dry cough and chest pain are;

1. Honey

This is the most easily available home remedy for dry cough for reducing the irritating sensation in the throat. Honey can be used in the following ways;

  • Honey can be mixed along with black tea or warm lemon water
  • Hot milk with a spoonful of honey can reduce dry cough with chest pain
  • A teaspoon of plain honey can be had on an empty stomach for relief from chest pain when coughing

2. Jaggery

This home remedy is useful for relief from cough along with congestion. Ways to use jaggery are;

  • Cut a piece of onion, keep some jaggery in it and chew it for the expulsion of mucous from the airways
  • Boil some pepper in water for about 20 minutes. Add cumin and jaggery to this. Drink this mixture 2-3 times a day for relief from cough.

3. Lemon

Lemon provides all the vitamin C needed by the body to fight against infection. Ways to use this immunity booster for dry cough with chest pain are;

  • Prepare a syrup by combining one tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of lemon juice. This syrup can be had 2-3 times a day.
  • Warm water along with half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey is useful for clearing the lymphatic system of any infections.

4. Onion

This is the simplest and the most cost-effective home remedy for dry cough. A simple way to use onion for dry cough is to breathe in vapors of onion juice that are proven to relieve dry cough


This herb is used while preparing almost every Indian meal. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant properties. Ways to use turmeric to treat chest pain when coughing are;

  • "The golden milk"- Add a pinch of turmeric to a cup full of boiling milk. You can also add some sugar and ginger to enhance the taste and effectiveness of this drink.
  • Mix turmeric powder and black pepper powder in a half cup of water and boil it. This drink can be consumed 2-3 times a day.
  • Gargling with warm water mixed with turmeric and salt is one of the best home remedies for the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections causing the dry cough.

6. Garlic

Several studies have proven the results of this garlic in relieving symptoms of cough and shortness of breath due to conditions like bronchial asthma, allergies, chronic bronchitis, and infections of the respiratory tract. You can eat 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic every morning.

Tips to prevent dry cough with chest pain

Some additional tips which will help you manage dry cough with chest pain and/or shortness of breath are;

  1. Steam inhalation with or without medications several times a day is the quickest way to get relief from symptoms.
  2. In case of allergies or bronchial asthma, you need to take efforts to identify the triggers and avoid exposure to them.
  3. Keep lozenges handy for times when the throat irritation is excessive especially at your workplace or social events where coughing or clearing the throat may make you and others feel awkward.
  4. Prefer sticking to warmer drinks that will soothe the throat such as warm beverages, soups, etc.
  5. Drink plenty of water.
  6. Avoid cigarette smoking
  7. Avoid exposure to respiratory irritants like perfume, pollution

A dry cough is one of the commonest respiratory tract symptoms, yet, it is also one of the most difficult to treat. Dry cough may be a result of a mild infection or allergy or maybe a symptom of a deeper pathology. This is the reason why you must consult a doctor for a dry cough.


Dr. Himanshi Purohit

Dr. Himanshi is a Homeopathic consultant currently working as a lecturer in Post-graduate faculty of Homeopathy, Parul University, Vadodara.