How to Sleep with a Cough
Understanding the Causes of Coughing at Night
Coughing at night can be caused by various factors such as allergies, asthma, postnasal drip, and acid reflux. Allergies can irritate the airways, leading to coughing, while asthma can cause inflammation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Postnasal drip occurs when excess mucus accumulates in the back of the throat, leading to coughing. Acid reflux, on the other hand, occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and coughing.
In some cases, coughing at night may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, or pneumonia. It’s essential to determine the underlying cause of your coughing at night to find the appropriate treatment and prevent further complications. If your coughing persists or worsens, it’s recommended to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Home Remedies for Soothing a Cough
If you’re looking for natural ways to soothe your cough and get a good night’s sleep, there are several home remedies you can try. One of the most effective remedies is to drink warm fluids such as tea, broth, or warm water with honey and lemon. Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, while lemon helps to loosen mucus.
Another home remedy is to use a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air. Dry air can irritate the throat and make coughing worse. You can also try inhaling steam by taking a hot shower or filling a bowl with hot water and leaning over it with a towel over your head to trap the steam.
Gargling with saltwater can also help to soothe a sore throat and reduce coughing. Simply mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for a few seconds before spitting it out. Additionally, some herbs and supplements such as ginger, turmeric, and echinacea have natural cough-suppressing and anti-inflammatory properties that may help ease your cough.
Adjusting Your Sleeping Position to Ease Coughing
Your sleeping position can have a significant impact on the severity and frequency of your coughing. If you have a dry, hacking cough, try elevating your head and upper body with pillows to reduce the irritation in your throat. Sleeping on your back can also make coughing worse, so try sleeping on your side instead.
If you have acid reflux, sleeping on your left side may help to reduce symptoms as it allows your stomach to sit below your esophagus, reducing the likelihood of stomach acid flowing back up. Additionally, elevating the head of your bed by 6-8 inches can also help to prevent acid reflux.
For those with asthma or allergies, it’s important to avoid sleeping with pets or in rooms with carpet or dusty surfaces that can trigger symptoms. Use hypoallergenic bedding and wash your bedding regularly to reduce allergens. If you have asthma, using a peak flow meter before bed can help you determine if your symptoms are under control or if you need to adjust your medication.
Medications for Coughing at Night
If home remedies and adjustments to your sleeping position do not provide relief from your nighttime cough, there are over-the-counter and prescription medications that may help.
Cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan can help to reduce the frequency and severity of coughing. However, these medications should only be used for a short period as they can cause drowsiness and may not be effective for coughs caused by underlying medical conditions.
For coughs caused by allergies or asthma, antihistamines and bronchodilators can help to reduce inflammation and open up the airways, making it easier to breathe and reducing coughing.
For acid reflux, medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers can help to reduce stomach acid production and prevent reflux.
It’s important to speak with a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication for nighttime coughing to ensure that it’s safe and effective for your specific condition.
When to See a Doctor for Persistent Coughing During Sleep
While most cases of coughing at night are not serious and can be managed with home remedies and adjustments to your sleeping position, there are times when it’s important to see a doctor.
If your coughing persists for more than a week, is accompanied by chest pain, fever, difficulty breathing, or coughing up blood, you should seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or lung cancer.
If you have a history of asthma, COPD, or heart disease, it’s also important to speak with your doctor if your coughing worsens or is not relieved by home remedies or medications.
In some cases, a chronic cough may be caused by medications, such as ACE inhibitors, or by environmental factors such as smoking or exposure to pollutants. Your doctor can help to determine the underlying cause of your coughing and provide appropriate treatment.