Do you have a cough that wakes you up or keeps you up at night? Nighttime, awakening cough is a common symptom of asthma. It is inflammation of the breathing tubes. The body’s internal defense mechanism against inflammation, cortisol, is lowest in the middle of the night. This can reveal asthma that is covered in the daytime when cortisol is at its highest. Sometimes there is also morning cough on arising. This should be checked by an allergist who specializes in asthma. If you’ve had a cold or flu, you may also develop a lingering cough. With the weather continuing to drop and germs circulating throughout the community, viruses are spreading.
Viruses tend to be the culprit for most coughs, which means you have to just rest, stay healthy and wait for it to get better. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, only bacterial infections. The average cough that is not associated with a serious health problem typically goes away within 18 days.
For temporary relief, try sucking on candy, cough drops or lozenges before bed. These can relieve that throat tickle that causes coughing attacks. You can also try to relieve your cough by drinking hot tea, taking two table spoons of honey, and/or using cough syrup. All of these should sooth your cough and help you get a better night’s sleep.
Vapor rub also works wonderful for cough relief while sick. Applying this to the neck and chest before bed will help sooth your cough.
One thing to avoid while trying to sooth your cough is over-the-counter combination medications. These have multiple medications in them, so you do not want to double up or mix them with other types of medications such as cough medicine. Taking these can also cause side effects for adults. Contact your child’s physician before giving them any cold medicine. You can also try taking an anti-histamine before bed. These can help reduce the mucus build up and allow you to breathe easier.
Coughs and colds can also bring yellow and/or green mucus. It’s hard for the mucus to drain through your nose, so pressure in the face will build up. It’s important to do nasal washes twice a day, but more if you are feeling sick. This can help thin the mucus and clear some of it out to help reduce the pressure. If you have this color mucus after 10 days and are still experiencing sinus pain and pressure, contact your physician. You could have a sinus infection which may require antibiotics.
If your cough is still keeping you up at night, try sleeping with a humidifier. The moisture will keep your airways wet. If your airways are dry, they become irritated and the cough starts up again. Make sure to keep your humidifier no more than 40%. Sleeping with your pillow propped up (or an extra pillow) can also help you get the best night of sleep with a cough. With your head up, the mucus won’t build up in your throat. You can also make a cup of hot green tea if you wake up from your cough. Green tea has been known to help with sore throats. It also contains antioxidants which help build the immune system and fight off infection.
Another cause of a lingering cough is heartburn. The acid build up from heartburn causes the cough reflex to become irritated. If you suffer from heartburn and want to alleviate a night time cough, sleep with your head propped up a few inches. This keeps the acid from coming up and then into the lungs. Also try to avoid food and alcohol 2-3 hours before going to sleep.
If your cough lingers longer than eight weeks, you should contact your physician. You should also go in for a check-up if you have a high pitch noise while breathing in, and/or wheezing. Bronchitis is associated with both of these symptoms, which can lead to additional health problems if not treated. If you have asthma, it’s very important to look out for these symptoms, as it can cause a flare up or attack. Another reason to call your doctor sooner is if you have additional symptoms such as coughing up blood, weight loss, shortness of breath, or other health issues. You do not have to suffer from a cough.