A dry cough and a sore throat often occur together, triggered by environmental irritants or conditions such as allergies, infections and chronic diseases. Most cases respond to a combination of home remedies and over-the-counter medications. Persistent or recurrent dry cough and sore throat should be evaluated by a physician.
Manage the Environment
Clean the home, starting with the sick room, to remove irritants such as mold, dust, pet hair and dander which can cause symptoms on their own or make symptoms caused by other conditions worse.
Avoid introducing new irritants such as cigarette smoke, perfume and aerosol products by asking household members to refrain from using these items indoors.
Keep the home—or at least the sick room—comfortably cool, and maintain air flow by opening a window or adding a fan, if necessary.
Place a humidifier in the sick room. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the tiny droplets of water a humidifier introduces helps to moisturize airways and make it easier for a sick person to breathe.
Treat Dry Cough
Offer an adult a lozenge or hard candy to suck. For children, consider ice chips or frozen treats—these are less likely to trigger choking—and supervise consumption.
Try over-the-counter cough suppressants or antitussives. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends medications that contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan such as Triaminic Cold and Cough, Robitussin Cough, Vicks 44 Cough and Cold.
Relieve pain due to try cough with ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Never give more than five doses in 24 hours.
Soothe Sore Throat
Try a salt water gargle. The CDC recommends using a solution of 1 cup of warm water with 1 tsp. salt.
Drink lots of fluids to lubricate irritated tissues and prevent dehydration. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, good choices include dilute juice, broth and clear sodas.
Encourage the patient to rest. Symptoms often subside with sleep and rest plays an important role in the overall recovery.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Sore Throat
- CDC: Caring for Someone Sick at Home: Treat Dry Cough
- CDC: Caring for Someone Sick at Home: Treating Sore Throat
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Cough Medicine: Understanding Your OTC Options
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Hydration: Why It's So Important