What Are the Causes of Dry Hacking Cough & Hoarseness?

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Most people at some point in their lives will have a dry, hacking cough and a hoarse voice. In many cases your hoarse voice may be caused by a dry, hacking cough. If one symptom is not caused by the other, the hoarse voice may indicate that both symptoms stem from a problem in the larynx.

Dry Cough and Hoarse Voice

Dry coughs are often accompanied by a hoarse voice. A hacking cough can damage the larynx, the organ located at the front of the neck, that manipulates the pitch and volume of the voice. When the larynx is damaged it can make the voice sound thin. For this reason, the causes of a dry, hacking cough can often be the reason that you have a hoarse voice as well. However, there are also some conditions that directly affect the larynx.

Dry Cough

A dry cough causing a hoarse voice can be caused by a number of conditions. The common cold and influenza both cause a cough. Allergies can cause a dry cough. These are all because of an increase in the production of histamines by the immune system. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that smoking can also cause a cough. If your hoarse voice is being caused by a cough, treating the cough and the cause of the cough should also treat your voice by allowing the larynx time to heal. A cough caused by these symptoms is often treated with over-the-counter cough medication. If this fails, prescription medication may be necessary.


If you have just recovered from a cold or flu and you find yourself suffering from a renewed cough and hoarse voice, this may be due to laryngitis. Laryngitis refers to an infection of the larynx that causes the organ to swell, making the voice hoarse. Laryngitis can be caused by a cold or flu, but may also be caused by a bacterial infection, bronchitis or pneumonia. Other symptoms associated with laryngitis are fever and swollen glands in the neck. Resting your vocal cords and using a humidifier to increase moisture in the air may help to reduce the inflammation of the laryngitis.

Reinke's Edema

According to British general practice magazine Pulse, heavy smoking or failure to rest the voice when suffering from laryngitis can result in Reinke's oedema—oedema in North America—in which the larynx swells because of fluid build-up. This makes the voice hoarse and causes a dry cough because there is nothing to be dislodged from the throat by coughing.


As the best way to treat a hoarse voice is to rest it, a dry cough will make recovery difficult. The more a dry cough damages your larynx the more slowly your voice will return to its original tone. Consult your doctor if both symptoms last for more than two weeks.