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Wheezing Dry Cough

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Wheezing Dry Cough

writtenByWritten by: Ryan Quinn
Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

Ryan has a background in geochemical research and enjoys writing on technical subjects like health and science. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.

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November 19, 2018 Read Time - 3 minutes

Wheezing and dry coughs are separate symptoms that can arise from a variety of respiratory ailments. If a wheezing dry cough occurs all at once, that may be a sign of a serious health problem and medical care should be sought out. Read on to learn more about wheezing dry cough.

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Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling or rattling sound during breathing (particularly during an exhale) as a result of constricted or inflamed airways. Wheezes are usually audible to the naked ear, but sometimes they can only be heard with a stethoscope.

Wheezing symptoms can be caused by:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) particularly during a respiratory infection
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiolitis or bronchitis
  • Heart failure
  • Allergic reactions e.g insect stings
  • Foreign objects in the airways
  • Pneumonia
  • Smoking
  • Aspirin, or other medicines
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lung cancer
  • GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)


A cough is very common and is one of the most frequent reasons for a doctor visit. Although a cough can be irritating and uncomfortable, it is actually a helpful reflex. Despite this, a cough may be a sign of a larger problem.

Frequent triggers of a short term cough include:

  • Upper and lower respiratory tract infections (caused by a virus, e.g. the common cold or influenza)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Allergies (e.g. allergic rhinitis)
  • Acid reflux
  • Irritants (e.g. smoke, vapors, mold, or others)
  • Lung clot
  • Lung collapse
  • Heart failure
  • GERD

Triggers of chronic coughs include:

  • COPD
  • Asthma
  • Lung infections (e.g. tuberculosis)
  • Lung cancer

Dry Coughs

Some coughs produce fluids such as a “productive cough” (coughing up phlegm) or hemoptysis (coughing up blood). A dry cough on the other hand does not expel any phlegm or fluid.

Wheezing dry cough (combined)

A dry cough is generally innocuous, but when accompanied by other symptoms a dry cough can be a sign of something quite serious. Contact a doctor right away if you have a dry cough combined with any of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing dry cough
  • Chest pain when not coughing
  • Coughing only at night
  • Dry cough begins to produce blood

If you have a wheezing dry cough it could be a sign of:

  • Asthma. Narrowed and swollen airways that produce extra mucus.
  • Emphysema. Damaged air sacks in the lungs usually caused by smoke inhalation.
  • GERD. Chronic backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.
  • Heart failure. Gradual weakening of the heart’s ability to pump blood.
  • Lung cancer.

Bronchitis, COPD, and pulmonary edema can be accompanied by wheezing; but coughs with these issues usually produce mucus or frothy sputum.

If you think you are suffering from a wheezing dry cough book an appointment with a PlushCare physician today.

Read more about wheezing dry cough


PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Mayo Clinic. Wheezing. Accessed December 18, 2020 at Dry Cough. Accessed December 18, 2020 at

Mayo Clinic. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Accessed December 18, 2020 at


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