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Doctor explains how to ease nighttime coughing

Doctor explains how to ease nighttime coughing How to calm nighttime coughing (Collage by RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Daria Shekina

Coughing can be bothersome throughout the day and exhaust the body. But when a cough prevents you from sleeping through the night, it's even worse. There are several simple methods that can help alleviate nighttime coughing. WebMD explains the methods that doctors recommend to soothe nighttime coughing.

Causes of nighttime coughing

When you have a cold, a sinus infection, or the flu, mucus can drip from a stuffy nose or sinuses into your throat when you lie down in bed. That's why coughing at night can be significantly worse than during the day. You might feel a tickle at the back of your throat and have the urge to cough to clear that sensation.

However, there are several other conditions that can trigger nighttime coughing:

Asthma: Airways in the lungs narrow and close up, leading to a buildup of excessive mucus. People with asthma might experience a dry cough as they may not be getting enough air when breathing. Dust can exacerbate the issue.

Allergies: Hay fever or other types of allergies can cause a stuffed nose that drips into the throat.

Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Stomach acid can creep up and irritate the nerve endings in the lower part of the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. This can cause coughing even if you don't feel heartburn or pain.

Smoking: Mucus in the lungs can trigger coughing. You might also feel the need to cough to expel toxins from the airways.

Blood pressure medications: Some medications (ACE inhibitors) can cause a persistent dry cough in some people.

How to soothe a cough

Start with simple remedies and observe if they can halt the coughing fits:

  • Use a humidifier or inhale steam from a hot shower or kettle before bedtime.
  • Elevate your head slightly with an extra pillow.
  • Try a saline nasal spray or rinse with saltwater.
  • Take a spoonful of honey (not recommended for children under 1 year old).
  • Drink warm tea or soup.
  • Suck on menthol or honey lozenges before bedtime.

If these methods don't work or provide significant relief, over-the-counter cough remedies may be used:

  • Cough suppressant: It works by blocking the cough reflex.
  • Decongestant to clear a stuffy nose or sinuses.
  • Antihistamines to stop sneezing or runny nose.
  • Expectorant to thin mucus and promote coughing it up.

Remember, some medications can cause drowsiness or conversely, alertness. It's advisable to consult a doctor if you are taking any medications, such as those for high blood pressure.

It's important to treat not only the cough but also the underlying issues causing it. For this, you need a consultation with a doctor and examinations.

Previously, we wrote about how to differentiate between the flu, a virus, and coronavirus.

We also discussed what a doctor advised doing for sore throats.