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British Lung Foundation
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Chronic dry cough

I have had a persistent dry cough since June 2016 after a cold which lasted about a month. It is worse when out in the cold air and when I try to speak will often come on and prevent me talking.

A chest x ray was clear and a breathing test was normal. One Doctor said it could be acid reflux related but I'm not convinced!

Could I have bronchitis or a lung problem? Over the counter cough medicines have not worked either. Herbal remedies maybe?

I would love any advice on this, any thoughts would be great.



11 Replies

Hi Tim, it could be reflux or something else so maybe speak to your GP again and say how you are feeling. Good luck to you. Xxxxxx

1 like

Hi Tim, there is a kind of acid reflux known as silent reflux (so called as it often doesnt cause the classic reflux symptoms like heartburn). It happens when the upper oesophageal valve which separates the windpipe from the oesophageal is weakened and allows acid to get into the windpipe. It can reach the bronchi and cause irritation and coughing. This will be the thinking behind your doctor's suggestion that you could have reflux. And any sensitivity of the airways will be worse in the cold. Hope this helps.

As Sassy says, it could also be something else but please do follow this up with the doctor just in case.


Hi 02Trees,

Thanks for your reply. If it is what you suggest, what is the treatment if there is any? Thank you, Tim


There are various classes of medication to treat reflux Tim - they work by reducing the level of acid in your stomach. Proton pump inhibitors - PPIs - are the standard ones. Often people are started off on these, then there are H2 blockers, another class e.g. Ranitidine, not quite as strong. If you had a trial dose of, say, 2 weeks that would give you a chance to see if it helps the cough.

I have silent reflux - a lot of us here do - and I take a maintenance dose of 15mg of Lansoprozole which is one of the PPIs.

It may be something else altogether - Im not a medic, don't know about your situation other than what you've said here, and no-one here can diagnose you. All Im saying is give your doctor a chance to discuss this possibility with you.

Good luck :)

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I've had the same, persistent cough since I caught a cold back in 2013.

Had x ray , spirometry, tried PPI (omeprazole), Avamys nasal spray, tried an inhaler which started me coughing so could not keep it in. Accompanied by a lot of mucus in back of throat causing me to keep clearing my throat. Nothing has changed. Doctor has no idea what is causing it except to try these medicines for longer term. She did suggest it could be GERD or nasal drip.

I dread getting another cold as the symptons get so much worse.

Never smoked by the way.

Any suggestions?


Good morning Tim. You sound absolutely fed up with it. Keep you nose and mouth covered when you are out in the cold. Try moistening your mouth and throat with say some Jakemans menthol sweets? I found this link about gargling with salt water :-http://www.thehealthsite.com/news/how-does-warm-salt-water-gargle-helps-with-cough-and-cold/

I hope someone can come up with a solution for you.

1 like

Certain medication for high blood pressure is known to have a side affect for making some people have a dry cough. Check with your GP.


My advice is to discuss with your GP a trial of omeprazole in case you do have reflux and whether you should have a CT of your lungs. Good luck


O2trees has hit it on the head I would say that the refux could well be the problem There are many tablest that will help and hopefully help the breathing as as well.

Be well


Hi Tim, believe it or not I'm going through the same thing at the present time, back in May I had a chronic dry cough trip to my GP advised me to see a allergist, he diagnosed me with post nasal drip, the dry cough ceased briefly during the day however it was consistent at night time, this seemed to have gotten worse, my pulmonology dr. Help me to do a couple of tests sent me to a ear nose and throat doctor in which he did a couple of tests the end result was acid reflux(Gerd) so he prescribed Nexium in which I have taken Nexium in the past but at the present times I cannot take it because I have osteoporosis and it depletes my calcium is it makes my bones ache very badly.... a trip back to my GP and she advised me to lose a little weight in my stomach and the GERD will go away, I lost 9 pounds in 30 days and guess what the acid reflux went away as the dry cough stopped to... 2 weeks ago I'm back to eating out with family especially over the holidays and my acid reflux has come back and along with that dry cough( sometimes the cough sounds like a hacking noise especially at night) it's terrible I hate it especially when I'm out and about and I walking to the store with that dry cough and someone looks at me like I have a disease!!!! So when I'm on a diet once again. So please allow me to say listen to your doctor because it could be acid reflux and I wish you luck hoping you get better, Trust and Believe You Are Not Alone there are a lot of us suffering from respiratory related illnesses.


Thank you everybody for your replies which are all very helpful. Yes, the consensus seems to be acid reflux but I should have said that I have been taking Lanzaprosole for over 2 years and although it stops any acid problems I still have the cough. I have had a lung function test which was fine and so the latest situation is I have been referred to an ENT specialist who will probably be putting a camera down my throat to see if there is anything obviously wrong. I told my Doc I also have a permanent sore throat but he's now just waiting to see if ENT find anything? Thank you again for all your interest!!


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