Dry Cough at Night: Home Remedies, and Cold, Bad, with Phlegm, Itchy Throat, Causes

A dry cough at night that occurs can cost you a night rest. It is a condition that is caused by a viral infection.  The condition is usually ruthless more so, if you are continuously coughing during the night, effectively ruining your sleeping pattern. Medical practitioners claim that any health problem that causes you to cough during the day will definitely result in your coughing at night. For example, the common cold can give rise to a variety of symptoms, including a dry coughs, which stay with you day and night until the infection resolves.

Can’t Stop Coughing at Night

Some of the causes making you to cough all day long are bad enough. However, they can as well keep you awake all night. A persistent dry cough that won’t go away at night can be so awful. This will means that you will have to be eye open, with sweat that come as a result of the cough. Moreover, the dry cough can take away all your energy whereby you become exhausted due to a continuous coughing from one after the other.
In case you are in this state whereby you can’t stop dry coughing at night, you need to take a quick action to solve the problem or else you will worsen up. There are some over the counter treatments or at home remedies that can help you relieve your condition. However, if you find no help in all these, it is important you visit your doctor for examination since you may be dealing with something more serious that you can imagine.

Coughing at Night Only

You may as well find yourself just a dry cough at night only and not during the day.  There are a number of reasons why cough symptoms get worse at night, or why you will only cough at night and during the day you are okay. Let us go through some of these reasons:

  1. Gravity

A message from research findings states that the biggest reason why people cough more at night is because of gravity. The researchers say that, when we lie down, the gastroesophageal reflex kicks in because mucus automatically begins to pool. However, they provide solution by saying the best way to counteract this gravitational pull is elevation. You will have to sleep with a pillow propping you up a little bit, as it will help keep the mucus from collecting in the back of the throat.

  1. A dry, indoor environment

While in your closed house at night, dry air can aggravate an already irritated nose and throat, making your nighttime cough worse. A humidifier can be used to put moisture back into the air and make it easier to breathe, but be sure to take proper care of the unit. Some experts warn that humidifiers are not safe if water put in it is not sterile. This will encourage the risk of cycling the germs back into air or breeding other diseases. To ensure you use a humidifier safely, be sure to follow all the directions that it comes with carefully.

  1. Clearing congestion

You should be aware that when you have a dry cough at night, this is actually important in helping you get well. The coughing reflex helps keep your throat and airways clear. As annoying as it may be, that persistent cough is breaking up mucus and helping your body get well.

How to manage dry cough at night only

As it is clearly known that most coughs associated with colds and flu are beneficial for clearing congestion from your lungs and airways, however, sometimes you can get a dry, hacking cough with a lot of discomfort.  A dry cough that appears at night can make your airways, throat, and chest sore and keep you from getting much-needed rest. In case of this problem do the following:

  • Try your best to drink a lot of fluids in the evening before you go to bed as they will help thin the mucus in your throat and make it easier to cough up.
  • When you want to go for bed, suck on a cough drop or hard candy to soothe your throat and decrease the urge to cough.
  • You can collect some best medicine formulated specifically for a dry cough from your pharmacist.
  • If the cough lasts for more than 7 to 10 days you should run to your doctor for examination. Also, if your cough persists with nasal symptoms that improve but then get worse, your doctor should examine you for sinusitis. In that case, an antibiotic may be prescribed.
  • A cough lasting longer than a week or two could be the result of another health condition, such as bronchitis, chronic sinusitis, reflux, asthma, or pneumonia, so getting a doctor’s input is crucial.

Am very sure if your case is not much worse (like TB), these tips will help you to get some quality rest. However, while coughing helps you get better from your problem, it is important to know what could have caused it. If the case is not resolving too soon, just go and be diagnosed by your doctor.

Dry Cough at Night Causes

This dry cough is usually associated with a tickly cough and can be caused by viral infections or allergies as we stated above. As research reveals, unlike a chesty cough, a dry cough does not produce any mucus and is therefore termed as ‘non-productive.’
It is known that dry cough is commonly caused by cold and flu viruses. It can also be triggered by atmospheric pollutants irritating your throat. In most of these situations, dry coughs occur because the back of your throat becomes irritated or inflamed, but may also arise from deeper in the chest.
Any cough can be a nuisance and this is particularly so if sleep is disturbed. A vicious cycle can develop – if one is tired, recovery from any infection or illness can take longer. The following are causes:

  1. Cold and flu

This is a condition caused by viral infection. These coughs may occur at the start of the illness or more likely, appear towards the middle or the end of the infection, and may linger long after other symptoms have disappeared

  1. Allergic reactions

This is also one of the most common causes of dry constant cough that night. Hay fever is allergy to grass and tree pollen, which causes irritation to the eyes and nose and when the throat is affected, a cough results. Sensitivity to other particles such as animal fur, known as allergic rhinitis, can also lead to the same symptom
Moreover, air pollutants can irritate the back of the throat causing a cough. This is the situation seen when non-smokers enter a smoky room

  1. Acid reflux

Research shows that your cough can be as well as a result of acid reflux. Here, this happen when the acidic contents of the stomach travels upwards to the back of the throat. Then little amounts of acid may enter the upper respiratory tract, causing inflammation and dry cough at night. This is more likely to happen when one is lying down flat. Acid reflux is a prominent element of GORD or GERD (Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease).

  1. Asthma

This is a chronic disease of the bronchioles and which is likely to attack young people. These small tubes transport air into the depths of the lungs and can become inflamed and narrowed as a result of a variety of factors, including an allergic tendency. Some of the early signs of asthma include coughing at night, coughing whilst exercising and a mild wheeze

  1. Heart failure

This is a weakening of the heart’s ability to pump blood. As the heart struggles to move blood round the body, fluid builds up in tissues. In the lungs, the cough reflex is triggered in an attempt to rid the body of unwanted fluid. The situation is made worse when lying down as this posture allows fluid to accumulate more easily in the lungs. Heart failure and heart disease are the main causes of persistent coughing at night in those over 65 years of age

  1. Sinusitis

The sinuses are small cavities lying within the cheekbone and forehead. Sinusitis is the condition which comes about when the lining of these cavities become infected and inflamed, giving rise to the main symptom of the feeling of a blocked nose. Mucus in the sinuses drains into the back of the nose and pharynx. When you lie down, excess mucus drips down into the back of your throat, irritates the tissues, triggering the dry cough at night reflex.

  1. Some blood pressure drugs

ACE inhibitors can trigger a dry cough that won’t quit for some people. Some medicines, particularly those for high blood pressure, can result in a dry cough. If your doctor finds that one of these problems is causing your cough, you’ll need to treat that specific condition to find relief. Talk to your doctor about the best plan.

  1. Lung problems and cancer

A persistent cough can also be a specific sign of lung problems, including lung cancer. For this case, it is important that you visit your doctor to confirm that it is cancer that causes a dry cough at night.

  1. Whooping cough

This is a bacterial disease caused by Bordetella pertussis characterized by bouts of coughing followed by gasping of air in a distinctive ‘whoop’ sound. It is not as common as it used to be

  1. TB – Tuberculosis

This is a highly infectious bacterial disease which primarily affects the lungs and results a dry cough at night as well. In the early stages, it gives rise to a persistent dry cough. TB was once thought to have become extinct throughout the World, but cases have increased recently because of a combination of drug resistance and lowered immune resistance.
Other causes of a dry cough include:

  • Psychological conditions – this is when coughing has become a habit. It is also sometimes referred to as a psychogenic cough. There is no physical illness behind the cough and often the person does not even realize he or she is coughing. A feature of this type of cough is that it goes away when one is asleep
  • Nerves and stress – many people cough when they are in a stressful situation. Breathing becomes shallow when you are anxious and this can trigger the cough reflex. Some people tend to be more anxious than others, and for them the ‘natural’ nervous cough can become a problem if they find themselves in uncomfortable situations. Often, the underlying problem will have to be addressed in order to cure the dry cough.

Home Remedies for Dry Cough at Night

If a dry cough has been denying you sleep all night long, it is a high time that you start thinking on ways to clear the problem. There are numerous ways you can find help to kick out that problem for good. You can visit you medical provider who will diagnose you find out what could have caused you that lingering dry cough all night. However, while you are at home, you may try some of these remedies as they can also relieve your condition as well.
Depending on what is causing you the cough, there are different remedies and lifestyle changes you can try to relieve or prevent nighttime coughing in both adults and children.

  1. Incline the head of your bed

As we have learned above, acid reflux will get you in the night if your sleeping mode is not the right one. Moreover, it is easier that way for irritants to make their way to your throat to trigger a dry cough at night when you’re lying down. Avoid this by propping up some pillows to raise your head.

  1. Use a humidifier

Dry, warm air can irritate your throat and airways. Some people also cough when they turn their heater on in the winter. This is due to the release of pollutants that built up in the heating ducts. A humidifier that produces a cool mist can help keep the air in your bedroom moist. This can keep your throat feeling better.

  1. Try honey

Honey and a hot drink can help loosen mucus in your throat. Mix two teaspoons of honey into a caffeine-free tea, such as herbal tea, to drink before bed. You should never give honey to children younger than 1 year, however.

  1. Tackle your GERD

Your sleeping position makes it easier for stomach acid to backflow into your esophagus. This condition is known as acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic form of acid reflux and a common cause of nighttime coughing. But there are some lifestyle changes you can try to reduce a dry cough at night caused by GERD.
Also, avoid foods that trigger your GERD. Keep a food diary to help you figure out what these foods are if you’re not sure.

  1. Use air filters and allergy-proof your bedroom

When your immune system overreacts to an allergen, allergy symptoms such as coughing can occur. Dust allergy is a common cause of cough, especially at night when you’re exposed to dust mites or pet dander on your bedding.

  1. Prevent cockroaches

The saliva, feces, and body parts of cockroaches may cause dry cough at night and other allergy symptoms. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, cockroaches are a common cause of allergies and asthma attacks. Eliminate piles of newspapers and magazines that attract dust and give cockroaches places to hide. Also, use an exterminator to eliminate a severe cockroach infestation.

  1. Seek treatment for a sinus infection

Stuffed-up sinuses or a sinus infection may cause postnasal drip, especially when lying down. Postnasal drip tickles the back of your throat and leads to coughing. If nighttime coughing is caused by a medical condition such as a sinus infection, it’s important to get treatment. You may need a prescription from your doctor for antibiotics.

  1. Rest and take decongestants for a cold

Your coughs may be caused by the common cold. Your cough may worsen at night or when you lie down. Rest, chicken soup, fluids, and time are usually all it takes to beat a cold. Severe coughs due to a cold, however, may be treated with cough medication in adults and children older than 6 years. Decongestant sprays that help reduce postnasal drip may also be used in adults and children older than 6 years to reduce dry cough at night.

  1. Manage asthma

Asthma causes airways to become narrow and inflamed. A dry cough is a common symptom of asthma. You may need a prescription inhaler to treat asthma.

  1. Stop smoking

A chronic cough is a common side effect of long-term smoking. It’s not a quick fix, but if you’re a smoker, talks to your doctor about programs to help you kick the habit. Not only will your cough improve, your overall health will, too.

Home Remedies for Dry Cough for Kids

Medications carry a risk of serious side effects in this age group and may not be effective for young children. Fortunately, most coughs are caused by a virus and clear up on their own. If your child is suffering from a dry cough, there are some steps that you can take at home to nurse him back to health.

  • Give your child plenty of liquids to drink. These can moisturize and soothe a sore, scratchy throat.
  • Feed your child chicken soup that contains garlic. Research reveals that this combination carries antiviral properties, and your child may feel better faster.
  • Offer your child cough drops or lozenges, but only if she is over the age of three. Before that, cough drops pose a choking hazard. Lozenges containing zinc may shorten the duration of her illness. Those containing menthol or eucalyptus can help to relieve a dry cough at night.
  • Moisturize your child’s throat and nasal passages by putting her in a steamy bathroom or running a vaporizer. The moisture may calm down a dry, tickling throat and may reduce coughing.
  • Give your child a teaspoon of honey. This honey works as well as over-the-counter cough suppressants at easing a cough. Mix the honey in a mug of herbal tea or warm water.

Home Remedies for Cough and Cold

There are plenty of treatments for nighttime coughs that can help. Most of the time, home remedies or over-the-counter (OTC) treatments can work wonders. But if those don’t help, your doctor can prescribe a stronger cough medicine that includes something to make you drowsy.
How to calm dry cough at night
Start with simple solutions to see if they stop the hacking:

  • Use a humidifier to make the air moist, or breathe steam from a hot shower or tea kettle before bed.
  • Raise your head up a bit with an extra pillow.
  • Try a saline or saltwater nose spray.
  • Swallow a teaspoon of honey. (Note: This is not for babies younger than 1 year old.)
  • Sip warm tea or soup.
  • Suck on menthol or honey lozenges before bedtime.

How to Stop Coughing at Night without Medicine

A persistent cough may feel tempted to head to the pharmacy and pick up a cough suppressant medication. Cough suppressants contain ingredients to stop you from coughing but rarely treat the underlying cause. Cough medications are typically not recommended for children under 4 and can cause side effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness and stomach upset. You can use natural remedies to get rid of your cough at home.

  • Run a hot shower with the door closed. Sit or stand in the steam-filled room to help you naturally remedy your dry cough at night. Expose yourself to steam for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Elevate your head when you sleep. Drain fluid away from your head by using an extra pillow or raising the headboard of your bed.
  • Run a cool mist humidifier in your room. Oftentimes, coughs are worse at night and can make sleep difficult. A cool mist humidifier that uses cold water to operate can break up congestion to relieve your cough. Add a couple drops of eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to help you breathe easier.
  • Drink a lot of water as we stated above.

More references

  1. Soothe night time cough: http://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-flu-map/soothe-nighttime-cough
  2. How to stop coughing at night: http://www.healthline.com/health/coughing-at-night
  3. Reasons your cough get worse at night: http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/cold-and-flu-relief/nighttime-cough/