A Bad Cough & a Sore Throat

A bad cough and a sore throat are common symptoms that are found together. According to MedlinePlus, the cough reflex is initiated by throat irritation. Once someone begins coughing, the cough can further aggravate the throat, leading to a consistent cough. A bad cough and sore throat may be symptoms of various medical conditions or illnesses. Talk with the doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options.

Woman sick in bed with a cup of tea and lemon and honey next to her. (Image: pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images)


Coughing is the body's attempt to clear the airways and throat. Although its function is purposeful, it can develop into a nuisance. Most bad coughs combined with a sore throat are the result of the common cold, postnasal drip or bronchitis, according to MedlinePlus. A sore throat is due to irritation or inflammation in the throat caused by allergies, infection or irritants.

Common Cold Symptoms

If a cough and sore throat are being caused by the common cold, it will be accompanied by other symptoms, according to MayoClinic.com. The common cold is a viral infection that affects the upper-respiratory system. Symptoms of the common cold include nasal discharge, coughing, sore throat, watery eyes, sneezing, low-grade fever, fatigue, congestion, headache and body aches. If someone's temperature is above 102 degrees, she should contact a doctor.

Postnasal Drip Considerations

Postnasal drip is a condition where mucus drains down the back of the throat. It can be caused by any illness or medical condition that affects the sinus cavity, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Postnasal drip is most commonly caused by allergies, sinus infections and the common cold. As mucus drips down the throat, it can accumulate, caused bacteria to grow and the throat to become irritated. The dripping also produces a tickling in the throat that leads to a cough.

Acute Bronchitis Considerations

Acute bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes, or the airways, according to FamilyDoctor.org. When the airways become inflamed, due to a bacterial or viral infection, they swell, cutting off the ability to breathe normally. Acute bronchitis is primarily felt in the chest, but affects the throat. A bad cough develops as a result of the infection and excessive mucus production, leading to throat irritation.


MedlinePlus recommends different treatments for a bad cough with a sore throat. Use salt water and gargle a few times a day to cleanse the back of the throat and provide relief to the irritation. Run a humidifier during the night in the bedroom and drink increased amounts of fluids. Suck on hard candy or cough drops to soothe the throat.


MayoClinic.com warns that someone with a sore throat for longer than one week, has blood in phlegm or skin rashes, should seek medical attention. A sore throat may be a sign of a more serious condition.

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