Dry Cough When Pregnant – Reasons, Signs & Home Remedies

Dry Cough During Pregnancy

A dry cough during pregnancy usually causes difficulty in breathing and may escalate into something more dangerous, like a fever. From disrupting the sleep pattern to interfering with daily tasks, a dry cough can become problematic if not taken care of. Dealing with a cough during pregnancy can be tricky due to restrictions on the use of certain medications. As the immune system becomes weaker during pregnancy and requires assistance to recover, it is essential to opt for safe remedies and treatment options. In this article, we will explore the facets of dry cough while pregnant and how to identify and treat it with safe and effective homemade remedies for cough in pregnancy.

What Is a Dry Cough?

A dry cough is a cough that doesn’t involve the discharge of mucus. In women, it causes a host of problems, from insomnia to urinary incontinence (UI). During the final stages of gestation, a dry cough may interfere with regular breathing and cause shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing. Fatigue is another problem associated with pregnancy-related dry cough.

What Is the Difference Between a Dry and Wet Cough?

The only difference between a dry and wet cough is the lack of mucus discharge in the former. While a dry cough does not dispel any mucus, it clears out harmful irritants, microbes, and allergy-causing bacteria from the linings of the lungs and nasal passages.

Why Are Pregnant Women More Vulnerable to Cough?

Why are Pregnant Women More Vulnerable to Cough?

Pregnant women are vulnerable to a cough due to various reasons, the primary being increasing oestrogen levels in their bodies. The efficiency of the immune system lowers during pregnancy, causing the body’s natural defence system to weaken and become vulnerable to allergies and coughs.

Causes of Dry Cough in Pregnancy

There are several causes of a dry cough during pregnancy. The main reasons are:

  • Allergies – A weaker immune system is more susceptible to allergies. Although babies aren’t affected by these, the expecting mother may be. Viruses can enter the body through the nose or mouth and create difficulty in breathing or a dry cough.
  • Asthma – If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you may experience a dry cough during pregnancy.
  • Bronchospasm – Hyperactivity of the bronchioles can lead to dry coughing. Some causes of bronchospasms are pet dander, cold weather, chemical fumes, and smoking.
  • Rhinitis – A pregnancy-related condition, rhinitis leads to swelling of the mucus membranes. This further leads to a dry cough.
  • Low Immunity – Low immunity may make pregnant women prone to various allergies and infections and thus lead to dry coughing.
  • HeartburnAcid reflux or heartburn is common during pregnancy. This can contribute to a dry cough as well.
  • Air Pollution – Pollutants in the air, like smog, tobacco smoke, industrial smoke, or irritant gas, could itch the throat and cause you to cough.
  • Viral Infections – Flu or viral infection is one of the most common reasons behind dry cough.

Signs and Symptoms

Here are the signs and symptoms that appear when you’re going through a dry cough phase:

  • Wheezing and a blocked nose
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia and troubled sleep
  • Cough without phlegm
  • Itchy or blocked throat

Home Remedies for Dry Cough During Pregnancy

Home Remedies for Dry Cough during Pregnancy

Home remedies for dry cough during pregnancy include incorporating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Foods rich in zinc boost immunity and provide relief from a dry cough. Another good cure is staying hydrated throughout the day and including foods rich in Vitamin C, like kiwis, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits, et al. Taking cough syrup during pregnancy is another remedy for cough and sore throat. Other easy remedies include:

  • Get enough sleep to help heal your body and stimulate recovery. A good rest beats infections and diseases better than anything else.
  • Suck on a slice of lemon sprayed with a pinch of black pepper to reduce the intensity of the cough.
  • Eat 2 to 3 pieces of chopped or grated raw garlic with your meals to alleviate the symptoms of a dry cough.
  • Take basil leaves and honey, and grind them to a smooth paste. Consume this every day to soothe a dry cough.
  • You can make a natural cough syrup at home by mixing onion juice with honey and drinking it.
  • Drink orange juice to strengthen the immune system and relieve a dry cough while pregnant.
  • Avoid allergens that aggravate a dry cough, like dust, dirt, and other toxic pollutants.
  • A good home remedy for extreme cough is lukewarm water mixed with lemon juice.
  • Take warm showers or use a humidifier in your bedroom at night to increase moisture content in the air and relieve a dry cough.
  • Warm soup, tea, and water mixed with honey are good remedies too.
  • Gargling with lukewarm salt water works on the inflamed areas and removes excess fluids. It also aids in thinning the mucus and removing irritants from the throat and nasal passage.
  • Exercise regularly to counteract the symptoms of a dry cough. Supplementing these exercises with probiotics and prenatal vitamins is also recommended.
  • Certain medications that work well against a dry cough without any side effects are Acetaminophen (for fevers, headaches, and aches), lozenges (for easing throat pain), and Codein and Dextromethorphan (for suppressing a dry cough).
  • Drinking plenty of water will allow you to stay hydrated and flush out harmful toxins, mucus, and other foreign elements from your body.
  • Install a humidifier to reduce nasal congestion.
  • Prop your head up on a set of pillows to make breathing easier.
  • Drink warm tea or gargle with a lukewarm salt water solution.
  • Eat hard candy or suck on ice chips during the day.
  • If dry cough is due to acid reflux, you can change the frequency and quantity of your meals and maintain a healthy sitting, standing and sleeping posture.
  • Prepare chicken soup and add onions to it for a nice flavour. This concoction will provide nutrition as well as soothe your nutrition.
  • Keep your distance from people who are suffering from the flu.
  • A cup of warm chamomile tea with added honey can also provide relief from a dry cough.
  • Eating raw garlic is also believed to cure a dry cough.
  • Mix half a teaspoon of khuskhus and one teaspoon of honey with 3-4 teaspoons of fresh coconut milk and drink it at bedtime till the cough gets cured.
  • A chest rub containing menthol can open up the nasal passage and provide prompt relief.

Can Vaccinations Be Taken for a Dry Cough?

Certain vaccinations can be safely taken during pregnancy to prevent disorders and complications. These include Hepatitis B and the seasonal flu vaccine. Hepatitis is a transferable disease that can spread to the foetus from the mother. The flu vaccine will keep you and your baby protected. Flu vaccines must be administered in the form of a shot (containing the inactive form) for maximum effectiveness.

If you are experiencing whooping cough, you may be prescribed a Tdap vaccine by the doctor.

Can a Dry Cough Affect the Baby?

No, a dry cough only lowers the immunity of the mother and not the baby. A foetus is resilient in nature and is protected by the placenta. However, not treating a cough, cold, or flu for a long period of time may affect the cognitive development of the baby and lead to impairment during birth. As a precautionary measure, eat healthy and go for regular check-ups.

What Complications Can a Dry Cough Lead To?

Dry cough, if untreated, can lead to complications in the latter stages of pregnancy:

  • Lack of sleep or a disturbed sleep pattern is commonly experienced by people with a dry cough. A coughing bout makes the body fragile and weak; lack of sleep can worsen this.
  • Urinary incontinence or a disruption in the working of the urinary tract can cause discomfort for pregnant women. During pregnancy, the uterus exerts pressure on the bladder, making it difficult to hold the urine in. This might worsen during a dry cough and cause the urine to leak.
  • A dry cough causes physical, mental, and emotional stress, which may affect the baby.
  • Nutrition deficiency often follows a dry cough. A dry cough can leave you feeling vulnerable and weak and reduce your appetite. This can further lead to a deficiency in the nutrients your body gets.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

When Should You Consult a Doctor for Dry Cough while Pregnant?

Although a dry cough can be alleviated with the right diet and medication, complications may require unexpected visits to the doctor. You should consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Frequent bouts of insomnia
  • Prolonged loss of appetite
  • Fever measuring 102 degrees Fahrenheit or above
  • Coughing accompanied by chest pain
  • Discharge of colourless mucus during coughing bouts

It is crucial to visit a doctor as soon as any of the above symptoms appear. Don’t wait until they get worse or your body gets weaker. A visit to the doctor is highly recommended, especially if the above symptoms persist and don’t get cured despite home remedies.

Can OTC Medication Be Taken for a Dry Cough?

You can take over-the-counter medication to combat a dry cough. Do keep these tips in mind before taking self-medication:

  • Common dry cough medicines that are safe for consumption during pregnancy include Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Dextromethorphan cough supplements, and cough drops containing menthol as the primary ingredient.
  • Over-the-counter medication should only be used when its advantages and effectiveness far outweigh its risks.
  • Overuse of certain medicines can harm the foetus. Hence, confirm with your gynaecologist about the type of medication and dosage you can safely take.


1. Is Dry Cough in Pregnancy a Sign of Covid?

A dry cough, whether accompanied by fever or not, may indicate a potential COVID infection. Therefore, it is advisable to consider home testing or consulting with your doctor. Other symptoms to be mindful of include loss of taste or smell, digestive issues, diarrhoea, a runny nose, and headaches.

2. Can Dry Cough in Pregnancy be Hormonal?

Yes, dry cough could be due to hormonal fluctuation that during pregnancy enhances circulation in the respiratory system and develops or increases existing irritant sensitivity. Increased hormonal activity, along with acid reflux, could lead to dry cough. It is suggested to consult your doctor for more detailed and personalised guidance on the matter.

3. Can You Take Normal/Usual Cough Medicines to Combat Dry Cough while Pregnant?

There are several medications for coughs available in the market. However, the research on their efficacy in pregnancy is limited. Therefore, it is advised not to prefer over-the-counter (OTC) medicines on your own and consult a doctor personally for this health issue. Additionally, research done in 2002 has also proved that several over-the-counter (OTC) medicines fail to provide relief from their intended use in adults.

While a dry cough is common during pregnancy, it is important to monitor it and see a doctor in case it persists. With a healthy diet and adequate sleep, you can prevent as well as cure a dry cough.


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Also Read:

Bronchitis when Pregnant
Pneumonia while Pregnant
Cough and Cold during Pregnancy
Home Remedies for Cough in Pregnancy

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