What Causes a Deep & Dry Cough?

Updated November 21, 2016

Coughing is the body's mechanism to keep its throat and airways clear. Coughs fall into two categories; dry and productive. A productive, or wet, cough produces mucus or other substances. A dry and deep cough, especially one that persists, requires medical attention. Its causes range from an allergy to serious medical conditions.


Gastro-oseophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a chronic condition of the digestive system where stomach acid or bile refluxes into the oesophagus. That action of moving back into the food pipe causes irritation with resulting symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms are numerous including difficulty breathing, sore throat, hoarseness and a dry cough. Anyone presenting with a persistent dry and deep cough will be evaluated for GERD. Experience the burning sensation commonly called heartburn on a regular basis and GERD is a likely diagnosis.


A lingering cough that will not stop is a common symptom of spring allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, represents one such allergy. Hayfever and spring allergies are the result of allergens such as pollen from trees or plants, mould spores, animal dander and dust. These allergens, otherwise harmless, irritate the throat with a resulting dry and deep cough.


A chronic deep and dry cough may be the only symptom of asthma, according to MedicineNet. Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes, or airways, that results in their narrowing. The disease produces a condition known as "bronchial hyperreactivity," or BHR, or a heightened sensitivity to allergens. This restriction causes breathing difficulties and a sensation described as wheezing. Cold dry air, pollen, exercise and smoke all aggravate asthma, creating the right circumstances for a chronic cough. Asthma is generally worse at night or early morning, causing the persistent cough that wakes up the sufferer and prevents a good night's sleep.

Other Causes

Smoke cigarettes and a dry deep cough will likely result. Inhale second-hand smoke and the same result will occur. Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs caused by a virus or bacteria, can produce a dry cough but this disease will also produce other symptoms like fever, body aches and fatigue. Sarcoidosis, an inflammation of the lung tissues, produces the cough but also shortness of breath and chest and joint pain. A side effect from the use of an ace inhibitor, or angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, that is used to control high blood pressure, is a dry cough.

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About the Author

Robert Alley has been a freelance writer since 2008. He has covered a variety of subjects, including science and sports, for various websites. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina.