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Cold and Flu Center

Remedies for a Dry Hacking Cough

author image Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.
Remedies for a Dry Hacking Cough
Honey in tea relieves a cough. Photo Credit honey image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

A dry, hacking cough is a symptom associated with several different illnesses and allergies. Treating the underlying cause can help relieve the dry, hacking cough over time but when the illness is viral, medicines can't kill the infection. Instead, an individual can use home remedies to relieve the cough until the virus subsides. Even when a person uses medicine, the cough may last a few days until the infection has cleared.


MotherNature.com suggests creating steam. A person can do this by boiling a pot of water and then breathing in the steam to settle a tickle in the throat. A tickle occurs as a result of throat dryness and mucus drainage. Other steam options include running a hot shower or using a vaporizer.


Tea can be a good way to increase fluids and help thin mucus secretions that accompany and trigger a hacking cough. Some teas have added benefits, such as emission of soothing vapors and possession of throat-calming herbs. Good choices are chamomile, eucalyptus and peppermint. Lemons or lemon juice added to the tea can thin thick mucus secretions that run down the throat and cause an individual to have a hacking cough. Sweetening the tea to taste with honey can serve an additional purpose of coating the dry throat and reducing coughing. The Mayo Clinic points out that honey is as effective in suppressing a cough as some over-the-counter cough suppressants.

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Throat Lozenges

Throat lozenges can increase salivation in the mouth which provides more lubrication to a dry throat. Some lozenges can reduce coughing as well. Some options contain peppermint, eucalyptus and honey. MotherNature.com points out that hard candies may quiet a cough just as well as most cough drops.


The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests running a humidifier with essential oil to calm a cough. Oils to use include cedarwood, bergamot, eucalyptus, myrrh, sweet fennel, jasmine, lavender, tea tree and marjoram. This is especially effective at night to reduce mucus drainage and coughing.

Cough Medicines

A person can treat a dry, hacking cough with over-the-counter cough medicines. There are various types of cold medicines, including cough suppressants, expectorants, decongestants and antihistamines. The body usually creates a dry, hacking cough as a reflex as it tries to fight infection. Throat dryness from mouth-breathing when the nose is congested can also be a cause. An expectorant is most likely not the best choice for this type of cough because it brings up phlegm and makes it easier to expel. Instead, a suppressant can quiet a cough, explains eMedTV.com. A suppressant, decongestant or antihistamine can also reduce swelling in the nasal passages that cause congestion and reduce mucus secretions.

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