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Coughing at night

Night-time coughs can be the result of specific health conditions

Everyone enjoys a good night of sleep. When you are suffering from a viral infection, getting plenty of rest and relaxation is essential. This can be difficult though, if you are continuously coughing during the night, effectively ruining your sleeping pattern. Here, our immune system expert Dr. Jen Tan discusses the underlying conditions that make us cough more at night and when it is crucial that you consult your doctor.

An introduction to coughing at night

Coughing at night can prevent you from getting good and restful sleep.

Any health problem that causes you to cough during the day will most likely lead to coughing at night. For example, the common cold can give rise to a variety of symptoms, including coughs, which stay with you day and night until the infection resolves.

Conditions that can cause you to cough more at night

  • Asthma – this is a chronic disease of the bronchioles and more commonly encountered in 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
  • 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
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – this is also referred to simply as ‘acid reflux’. It is associated with indigestion and reflux occurs when acid in the stomach escapes up into the oesophagus. If severe, this irritates the pharynx (back of the throat) and the upper parts of the respiratory system, triggering the cough reflex . Lying down encourages reflux as the stomach and mouth are at approximately the same level which is why people with acid reflux may cough more at night
  • 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 cough reflex

When to see your doctor

You should seek medical advice if you experience unexplained coughing at night or a persistent cough of unknown cause. In addition, see your doctor if you unexpectedly lose weight, experience chest pain, shortness of breath or if you cough up blood.

How Echinacea helps

Echinacea is a traditional herb known to aid the body in its fight against the symptoms of cold and flu. Supplements like Echinaforce help increase the body’s resistance to infection by strengthening the immune system, allowing the body to fight the misery of colds and flu.

Leave your feedback

I would love to hear what you thought of the information you have read on this page. Just leave your comment below, thanks Dr. Jen Tan

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