How to distinguish wet from dry cough: differences and how to determine

What is different wet from dry cough?

Almost everyone, for various reasons, faced with the cough. The nature of its occurrence is the basis of the medical scheme, so it is important to know and be able to differentiate non-productive cough from the damp.

Besides, reflex acts under the influence of the active factors can change the character dynamics that require adjustments to treatment regimens. Each species has its own peculiarities, which can determine dry or wet cough.

Cough: what is it?

The irritation of the sensory receptors of the respiratory tract there is a reflex reaction, accompanied by jerky breaths with a sharp contraction of the diaphragm. Such a protective adaptive response is called cough. Its main purpose is to cleanse the respiratory tract from foreign ination accumulated of phlegm.

Depending on the reasons that triggered the attacks, cough klassificeret on physiological and pathological. In the first embodiment aktiviziruyutsya unconditional protection mechanism in unfavourable conditions.

It is normal and even necessary phenomenon for purification of the tracheobronchial tree from extraneous substances. The reflex process is periodic and of short duration and is terminated as soon as the pathogen is eliminated.

When the patient’s condition is deteriorating fever, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, it is a question of pathological cough. There is a wide range of preconditions for its development associated with dysfunction of the respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular system, psychological factors, unfavorable microclimate. Unpleasant symptom requires medical involvement and conservative treatment.

The cough reflex differencesbut for the duration of the flow into several types:

  • acute – lasts less than 15 days;
  • a protracted – do not stop for 3-4 weeks;
  • subacute – lasts from 3 weeks to 2 months;
  • chronic – occurs more than 8 weeks with recurrent episodes.

For reference! When assessing the reflex act of paying attention to pitch, rhythm, frequency, and nature of the exhalations.

The presence of sputum cough klassificeret on a dry (unproductive) and wet (productive).

How to distinguish wet from dry cough

Its characteristic feature is the absence of sputum or education in a minimum amount. Non-productive cough is more common in the early stages of infectious and respiratory diseases (laryngitis, tracheitis, bronchitis, whooping cough, pleurisy, sinusitis), asthma, benign and malignant tumors.

The root causes of spasmodic exhalations are unfavorable domestic, industrial and environmental conditions: high atmospheric concentrations of chemical elements, dust, spores of plants, contact with aggressive household means, sudden changes in temperature.

What is different wet from dry cough? While coughing from the bronchial tract is allocated a pathological secret. He is accompanied by severe abnormalities in the respiratory system: laryngitis, bronchitis, lung abscess, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung cancer.

For reference! By the nature of the sputum to determine the cause of cough reflex: cough colds mucous, colorless fluid, secreted by the colour change from light green to brown with possible blood and purulent mass indicates a serious disorder, threat to death.

Specifics of unproductive cough

Dry cough is often accompanied by unpleasant sensations in the abdominal and thoracic cavity organs, pain and sore throat, a decrease in the quality of breathing. How to understand what cough is bothering the patient?

There are a number of features by which you can recognize acts of cough without sputum:

  1. Obsessive paroxysmal in nature. As he begins abruptly and ends abruptly, in the form of the manifestation is compared to a barking dog.
  2. The duration of a crisis is measured 3-5 minutes, when the person experiences difficulty breathing, lack of oxygen.
  3. Intensive and continuous attacks provoke retching, due to the close proximity and relationship of the cough and the vomiting center.
  4. In the process of the forced exhalations clears throat only air. Allows the minimum number of sputum.
  5. On completion of the attacks of cough the patient is not experiencing relief.
  6. There is an increase of lymph nodes, stenothoe breathing, cessation of the functioning of the vocal cords.
  7. Worse at night and first minutes after waking up.

Nuance! Non-productive cough typical of smokers with experience and elderly people (senile cough).

The difference lies in the treatment regimen. To neutralize unpleasant symptom use antitussives peripheral and Central action to reduce the frequency and intensity of cough reflex.

Sekretolitiki stimulate motor function of the respiratory tract, alter the biological properties of the mucus, which facilitates its outflow.

Features of wet cough

In the productive cough visible result of reflex acts. This suggests that the body cleans itself naturally. Often his appearance correlate with the stage of recovery.

The difference wet from dry cough is the following symptoms:

  1. The cough reflexes do not cause painful sensations in the abdominal and thoracic cavity.
  2. Reflex act provokes a lump of phlegm in the throat, the patient might wish to remove accumulation through the forced exhalations.
  3. At the end of the episode, the patient’s condition is normalized, improving the quality of breathing.
  4. Forms of manifestation peculiar to the short character.
  5. In the process of clearing audible extraneous rattling sounds that occur at rest or as a result of excessive activity.
  6. Not tied to time of day, worries throughout the day.

Interesting! A dry cough can turn into the wet form, because disease-causing agents from the projection of the nose and throat going down, but the reverse transformation is impossible.

The therapeutic challenge when a wet cough is reduced to dilution and stimulation of sputum discharge. Treatment should be comprehensive, aimed at addressing the root causes that provoke the rejection.

Expectorants modify the viscosity of the mucus, prevents its accumulation in the projection of the bronchial tract, mucolytics contribute to the active removal of secretions from the lungs.


To understand what is the cough dry or wet will help the doctor at the first little cough. Without medical training it is difficult to conduct an independent division in the initial stages of the disease. Otolaryngologist identificeret cough acts on the cause, the results of these differential diagnosis.

Regardless of the type of reflex acts should be promptly take effective measures to correct clinical forms, otherwise the healing process may be long delayed.

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