A dry cough does not produce mucus or phlegm from the airways. It is a common early symptom of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
A person with a dry cough may experience a dry, scratchy, sore, or rough throat.
There may also be a sensation of a tickle in the throat or a patch of the throat that feels dry, even when swallowing. There may not be any relief from a dry cough, even after coughing.
Learn more about a dry cough with COVID-19 in this article.
A dry cough is a common early symptom of COVID-19. According to some estimates,
However, several other conditions can cause a dry cough, including:
- idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- upper respiratory infections
- lung cancer
A dry cough that is accompanied by other symptoms may indicate COVID-19 as the cause. These
- muscle or joint pain
- a sore throat
- a runny or congested nose
- nausea or vomiting
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- a loss of taste and smell
- a loss of appetite
- unexplained or unusual exhaustion
- a high temperature
However, ongoing studies are finding that a cough is one of
Children and young adults can experience COVID-19 symptoms, though they may be less likely to develop COVID-19.
In addition, they typically experience less severe forms of the disease and its symptoms. However, an
Experts know much less about the prevalence or common presentation of a dry cough related to COVID-19 in children and young adults than with COVID-19 in adults.
According to the study above, 54% of people under the age of 18 years experienced a cough as a symptom of COVID-19.
People who continue to experience symptoms after recovery may be experiencing post-COVID conditions. There are several of these conditions, including:
- long COVID
- multiorgan effects of COVID-19
- effects of COVID-19 treatment or hospitalization
Even a person who did not initially have severe COVID-19 symptoms may develop longer-term health issues, according to the
A cough is a common symptom of long COVID, alongside fatigue, dizziness, and joint pain.
In fact, according to a study in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, online surveys have found that
An early study from Italy found that
More recent studies, such as the one in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, have also found that a cough may continue for weeks to months after recovery from COVID-19.
Some other symptoms associated with post-COVID conditions include:
- nerve and joint pain
- brain fog, or confusion and memory problems
- gastrointestinal problems
- a loss of taste or smell
To reduce the risk of having exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and transmitting it to other people, the
- Wear a face mask when in public and among other people.
- Wash the hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
- Stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from people who are not in one’s household.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available.
- Avoid poorly ventilated indoor areas and crowds.
- causes a lot of coughing for longer than 1 hour
- gets worse
- causes three or more significant coughing episodes within 24 hours
However, a person needs immediate medical attention if any of the
- severe difficulty breathing
- pale, gray, or bluish skin, nail beds, or lips, depending on a person’s skin tone
- continuing pressure or pain in the chest
- an inability to stay awake
- difficulty waking
To get medical attention, a person can call 911 or the nearest emergency facility and ask for advice on how to safely get treatment for a person who has or may have COVID-19.
A dry cough is one of the most common, and early, symptoms of COVID-19, especially in adults.
Children and young adults may be less likely to experience common COVID-19 symptoms such as a dry cough, or they may experience less severe versions of the disease itself.
A local healthcare professional can offer advice on safe testing and potential treatment for COVID-19. Call 911 or the nearest emergency facility if a person is experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms.