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Developed a dry, tickly cough. Not cured by medicine. Am I at risk of serious illness?

Jan 2013
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Answered by

Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 1658 Questions
About 10 days ago I developed a dry, tickly cough. The 'tickle' is there pretty much all the time but when it makes me cough it's usually only a single cough or two at the most-----no prolonged coughing 'fits' (although it has been known to get more persistent when I'm in bed at night). I've tried a glycerol cough mixture but that doesn't seem to make any difference (but what 'over the counter' medicine ever works anyway?).
What concerns me is not the cough itself but the fact that it hasn't gone away after 10 days. Additionally, I keep hearing how coughs that don't clear up can often be a prelude to some very serious conditions. So is 10 days an abnormal amount of time for a dry cough to last? I don't seem to have any other adverse symptoms.
Posted Fri, 8 Feb 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Mayank Bhargava 44 minutes later
Welcome to XXXXXXX forum.

Are you a smoker?
Do you have dripping of nasal secretion passing through your throat?
Do you have swelling in legs?

Persistence of dry cough with more bouts during night is highly suggestive of bronchoconstriction.
Temperature fall during night times may precipitate bronchoconstriction and may cause severe cough.
Till the exact diagnosis can be made only after clinical examination.

You should consult with XXXXXXX medicine specialist/ chest physician and ENT surgeon simultaneously and should go for thorough check up.
Persistence cough may be due to asthmatic attack, smoking induced lung damage which is called as "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)", postnasal drip, cough variant asthma, laryngitis.
Treatment depends on clinical diagnosis.
Yet you should go for chest x XXXXXXX Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), complete hemogram, electrocardiogram (ECG) to rule out any heart ailment.
Persistence cough may be an alarming sign of tuberculosis and asthma which may be harmful in long run.

You should take cough suppressants, throat soothing medicines, benzonatate (centrally acting cough suppressants) on written prescription.
You should perform gargles three times in day with lukewarm water and a pinch of salt.
Avoid cold drinks, sour and oily food.

Hope that helps.
Let me know if I can address any more concerns.
Take care,
Dr. Mayank Bhargava
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Developed a dry, tickly cough. Not cured by medicine. Am I at risk of serious illness? 1 hour later
Thanks for the quick reply.
Quite an alarming diagnosis.
To answer your questions:
No, I'm not a smoker.

No, I'm not aware of any nasal secretion.

No, I have no swelling in the legs.

Coughing is never 'severe' (usually just a single or
double cough perhaps every 20 minutes or so although
a bit more frequent at night).

I have never suffered with asthmatic attacks.

I don't seem to have any other adverse symptoms at all

Is it not at all common for an ordinary dry, tickly cough to last 10 days before disappearing (I read somewhere that it should be given 21 days before seeking further medical diagnosis)??

Many Thanks
Answered by Dr. Mayank Bhargava 16 minutes later
You shouldn't take it lightly; you should consult with XXXXXXX medicine specialist and ENT surgeon simultaneously and should get thorough check up.
Meanwhile you should take above prescribed medicine on written prescription.
Best regards,
Dr. Mayank Bhargava

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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