It's common to have a dry cough and sore throat at the same time, as both can be triggered by environmental irritants or conditions such as allergies or infections. Most of the time, symptoms improve with a combination of home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Persistent or recurrent dry cough and sore throat should be evaluated by a physician.
Hydrate and Soothe
A dry cough and sore throat could be caused by dehydration, so the first step in alleviating these symptoms is to drink more fluids. Water may be best, but diluted juices and broth will also help.
Sucking on ice chips can numb a sore throat and temporarily make you feel better. Throat lozenges or hard candy can also help soothe a sore throat. Due to the risk of choking, popsicles are a safer alternative in young children.
Don't underestimate the importance of staying hydrated, as this will keep mucous membranes from drying out. Mucus traps bacteria and other irritants, so drinking enough fluids keeps the mucus from drying out or getting too thick, improving your body's immune response.
Place a humidifier in your room. The tiny droplets of water a humidifier introduces into the air moisturizes your airways and makes breathing easier.
Take a long, hot shower. This can have the same benefit as a humidifier, adding moisture to your throat and airways, improving your symptoms.
Drink warm beverages and inhale the steam in between sips. Tea with added honey may be particularly soothing to the throat.
Sore throat pain can also be relieved with ibuprofen, aleve or acetaminophen. Follow the label directions regarding the dose and frequency of use.
Another option is to try a salt water gargle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gargling with a solution of 1 cup warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt can help soothe the throat.
You may also try OTC cough suppressants. Also known as antitussives, products that contain the cough suppressant dextromethorphan include Triaminic Cold and Cough, Robitussin Cough, Vicks 44 Cough and Cold. Follow label directions for dosing. If you are under a doctor's care for any medical conditions or if you take prescription medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist about best options for cough remedies.
If you have any prescription medications to treat allergies or asthma, use them as directed to help control your symptoms. Also, get plenty of rest, as this plays an important role in the overall recovery.
Things You'll Need
Clear liquids such diluted juice or broth
Lozenge or hard candies
Frozen treats or ice chips
Tea with honey
Over-the-counter cough suppressant
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
There are steps you can take to prevent a cough and dry throat. When the seasons change and the air becomes more dry, consider using a humidifier before you get sick, and drink more water. Keep the home clean so irritants such as mold, dust, pet hair and dander can be minimized. Avoid introducing new irritants such as cigarette smoke, perfume and aerosol products into the home.
Use only distilled or sterilized water in your humidifier. Also, follow the manufacturer's directions on cleaning the unit and changing any filters.
Before starting any cough medicine, talk to your doctor if you also have a fever, shortness of breath, wheezing or a cough that has lasted 2 weeks. Talk to your child’s pediatrician before using any over-the-counter medications to stop the cough or improve the sore throat.
- 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