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Dry Cough After Running

author image Martin Booe
Martin Booe writes about health, wellness and the blues. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit. He lives in Los Angeles.
Dry Cough After Running
A dry cough can make running miserable. Photo Credit Viktor Diachuk/Hemera/Getty Images

Running activates your whole physical system, especially your heart and lungs. With all that exertion, large volumes of air circulate in and out of your respiratory system, sometimes causing unwanted symptoms such as a dry cough. The cough may be mild and easily soothed with a lozenge, or it can be harsh, hacking and painful. Here's a look at some possible triggers and what you can do to protect yourself from them.

Read More: Exercise and Runny Nose


As you huff and puff down tree-lined boulevards and blaze past flower beds and meadows, you're also inhaling whatever allergens, such as pollen, grasses or molds (or diesel fumes or other forms of pollution) are floating around in the atmosphere. That, at the very least, can set off inflammation in the back of the nose or throat, causing a coughing spell.

You may want to get tested by an allergist so you can devise routes that let you avoid whatever it is you're allergic to. Taking a non-drowsy over-the-counter antihistimine, such as Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra, at least an hour before running may nip your allergic reaction in the bud. You also might consider nasal irrigation to flush pollen and other irritants out of your nasal passages.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition in which inflammation of the airways obstructs breathing. Some people who normally don't suffer from asthma will experience symptoms of it only when they exercise. This is known as exercise-induced asthma or broncho-constriction. A dry cough after running is a symptom, and it tends to manifest 10 to 20 minutes after exercise.

Asthma is strongly correlated with allergies, and the exposure may set off the asthma and the cough. Very cold or very dry air are also common causes, and it's also possible that the exercise itself may bring on the attack. Warming up gradually before you run at full speed, as well as doing breathing exercises, can ward off attacks of exercise-induced asthma. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or any other breathing difficulties, it's a good idea to see an allergist who may prescribe an inhaler to reduce and prevent the inflammation.Respiratory Infection

If you'd had a cold in your head or chest or any other virus that has affected your respiratory track, your airways may still be irritated and inflamed. Respiratory symptoms can linger for quite some time after a virus. Breathing heavily while you're running is very likely to aggravate these tissues by the time you're done with you're run, possibly leading to a dry cough. Having a humidifier in your bedroom at night may help speed your recovery.

Dried-Out Airways

Running makes you breath hard, and if the air is cold and dry, it's up to the trachea to humidify by shedding water from its own cells. That makes easy for the trachea's lining to become irritated, causing a scratchy or burning feeling in the throat that can trigger a dry cough. Gargling, saline nasal mist and warm herbal tea with honey right after running could quite possibly save you from a coughing fit.

Read More: My Chest Hurts When I Breathe While Running

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