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What Causes a Hoarse Cough?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A dry or hoarse cough can often be a cause of great concern, especially if the affected person is a child. There are several potential causes for the development of this type of cough, and it is generally necessary to see a doctor in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. Some of the most common reasons for a hoarse cough include allergies, influenza, or croup. The common cold, acid reflux disease, or the use of certain medications may also be to blame.

Seasonal allergies are a common contributing factor to the development of a dry cough. The cough is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as itchy, watery eyes or sneezing. A simple allergy test can be performed at the doctor's office in order to determine if the patient has any allergies. Sinus infections are relatively common, especially among those who suffer from seasonal allergies, and may also lead to this type of cough.

Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious disease of the respiratory system that can produce a cough. Additional symptoms may include fever, sore throat, and muscle aches. Without proper treatment, severe and potentially life-threatening complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia may develop. Prescription medications or supportive care in a hospital setting may sometimes be needed to treat influenza.

Croup is a respiratory illness that typically affects children and causes a cough that sounds a bit like a seal barking. Croup is usually a mild illness that can be effectively treated at home, although prescription medications may sometimes be needed. The common cold is also prone to causing this type of cough, and sometimes a trip to the doctor is necessary in order to determine which condition is present.

Acid reflux disease is an often overlooked potential cause of a cough, especially if the cough occurs mostly at night and is accompanied by heartburn or difficulty swallowing. Certain medications may have coughing as one of the possible side effects. Chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma may cause an occasional hoarse cough as well. Diseases affecting the lungs or low humidity could be contributing factors involving this type of cough. Any questions or concerns about the cause of the cough or the best treatment options for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By anon345826 — On Aug 22, 2013

I had bronchydis last year. Ever since then, I have had a dry croupy cough. I am constantly clearing my throat because I have an itchy, ticklish feeling as well.

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