A person should see a doctor for a dry cough when he coughs up blood, develops a fever or notices a new rash, according to WebMD. He should call 911 if he has trouble breathing. A person should also see a doctor if the cough becomes deeper or more frequent or he experiences other symptoms, such as a sore throat or earache.
A dry cough is a symptom rather than a disease, states WebMD. A dry cough does not produce any sputum and may occur at the end of a cold or after exposure to dust or smoke. A person may have allergies if frequent sneezing accompanies the dry cough. A person taking ACE inhibitor high blood pressure medication may experience dry cough as a side effect. A chronic dry cough may indicate mild asthma, especially if a person also experiences shortness of breath, chest tightness or wheezing. Occasionally, a dry cough indicates airway blockage.
Extended, vigorous coughing can cause headaches, urinary incontinence and broken ribs in extreme cases, states Mayo Clinic. Self-care measures to ease a dry cough include taking a hot shower or using a vaporizer to moisturize the air and using warm liquids or hard candies to relieve throat irritation.