Coughing At Night
Coughing At Night A Problem?
There are usually some sound medical reasons behind experiencing coughing at night only, as opposed to coughing around the clock. A cold, the flu, or a throat infection will cause us to cough at any time of the day or night, but there are conditions which, if present often only cause coughing at night.
Looking at the issue from rather simplistic standpoint, it isn't so difficult to see that if you are sleeping on your back, any mucus, saliva, or phlegm that accumulates over time can work its way to the back of the throat or into the airways, causing tickling, irritation, or congestion. This might not be such a problem while standing or sitting upright, and if it is we usually resolve it by clearing the throat, not by coughing.
In most cases, coughing at night is in itself does not usually represent a serious situation, though there may be an underlying condition which could be. The cough may be what is generally termed a productive cough, in which the bronchial passages are being cleared out. When we have pneumonia, we are actually encouraged to cough as a means of clearing out the lungs, but that is not the same as simply coughing at night. A night time cough can also be a non-productive cough, a dry cough usually the result of inflammation or an infection in the throat, or asthma.
Open-Mouth Breathing - A common cause of coughing at night is open-mouth breathing. While we certainly can breathe through our mouth, it's really the nose that should be used, as breathing is what the nose is designed for. When exercising or working out in the gym, or taking Yoga lessons, we are told to breath through the nose. It's all right to exhale through the mouth, but we should always inhale through the nose, as by doing so, the air we take in is warmed, filtered, and humidified. With perhaps a little practice we can make breathing through the nose second nature, but it can be a difficult practice to follow when sound asleep. Sleeping with the mouth open can dry and irritate the throat, resulting in coughing. A stuffy nose can lead to mouth breathing as well, and while the cough may not directly be caused by a nasal problem, it can be secondary symptom and may not go away until the nasal problem has either been treated or goes away.
Acid reflux disease can also cause coughing at night. The backup of stomach acid into the esophagus is the culprit here, and this backup as all the more likely to happen when in a prone position. The bouts of coughing may be reduced in frequency, intensity, or even eliminated entirely buy avoiding food several hours before bedtime, and also avoiding drinking anything which may lead to an increase in stomach acid. This would generally limit acceptable bedtime liquids to water. In more severe cases it may be necessary to elevate the head end of the bed a few inches, which literally keeps the stomach acid in the stomach, where it belongs, and not in your throat.
Congestive heart failure is one of the more serious causes of nighttime coughing, and if this is the case, you should be under a physicians care in any event. The coughing is the result of fluid accumulating in the lungs and the heart as a result not getting sufficient oxygen. The coughing is an attempt to clear the lungs.
Asthma is another cause of coughing at night. The coughing may be more closely related to wheezing experienced during the day. The condition may be so deeply ingrained that the person suffering from the condition may not be aware of it, not be awakened by it during the night.
Nasal Issues - Finally, sufferers of sinusitis or allergic rhinitis often experience coughing at night due to nasal congestion or post-nasal drip. There are many over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms, and prescription medications as well. One of the more effective treatments is to use a saline nasal spray. It is safe to use and produces no adverse side effects. Other nasal decongestants can sometimes make the problem worse.
In summary, some causes of coughing at night will go away on their own, others require medication, or the attention of a care provider, while still others are symptomatic of a more serious disorder. In such instances, the night time cough may persist until the underlying cause can be effectively treated.