Persistent coughing at night! What do you do? You have to get over it somehow, and eradicate symptoms that could lead to flu and cold as well. There are a few alternatives holistically that you can use. Experts would always suggest fluids to the rescue, or maybe medications that can be obtained over the counter too. In some cases, and for some people, one would need decongestants as well, and yes, plenty of bed rest. The last one though is the most important, as it helps fight the flu symptoms and coughing at night better, says the review published in January 2012 in Pflügers Archiv: European Journal of Physiology. But do you get that kind of rest you need? The moment you lie down at night, you begin coughing. And this can be disappointing especially when you want a good nights’ rest after a long day at work. The symptoms at this point can play truant, and this can lead to disturbed sleep.
What are the causes of coughing at night?
The causes for coughing at night could just mean a cough or more, and there are a range of issues- allergies to flu symptoms to deal with or think off as causes per se. It could also be signs of asthma or bronchial problems as well. Some are short termed and would go away in a few days, whilst others persist, and that is horrible. From allergies to asthma, emphysema to bronchial problems of the chronic kinds, acid reflux and GERD to common cold and flu, you need to check with a doctor first to know what is the cause of coughing at night.
What does science say about night coughing?
When science talks about coughing at night, it states the following reasons as to why it happens.
1. Science says gravity can be a big reason for night coughing. At the Georgia Infectious Diseases and at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, USA, studies were done on the same. It showed that when an individual lies down on her bed, there is an accumulation of mucus happening. And to counteract this gravitational pull, an elevation of the head is needed. Hence, when you sleep with a pillow propped up a bit, it will stop the pool collection of mucus at the back of your throat.
2. Dry climes and environment can be a reason for coughing at night, say experts. This is because dry air can irritate nose and throat that is already dry, and this makes it worse at night. Hence, people living in colder climes or with dry air around would need to have a humidifier at home. In doing so, the moisture levels would come back to the house as normal and you can then breathe easily. But always take care to use the unit as per the guidance, or else you could have flu and fever symptoms.
3. Coughs at night or during the day are not that bad as well, suggests experts. This is because, when we cough, the body is trying to tell us that the nose and the throat have airways that are not clear. There is mucus accumulated and that needs to be clear; hence we cough.
How do you manage it?
Though in most cases the coughing at night would be a symptom of colds and the flu at times, or maybe to clear the congestion from the respiratory tract, there are times when the cough is DRY. This is a hacking cough that does not leave you soon. They make the airways hurt and the chest and throat are in pain too. This does not allow you to get the desired rest which you should be having. So here are a few steps for relief, when you face coughing at night or dry ones-
1. You would need to have a lot of fluids in the evening. This should continue all the way until bed time. In doing so, the liquids would help thin out the mucus membrane of the throat and you would not have a dry cough to battle.
2. If you have cough drops or cough candy at home, sucking on it before you sleep at night would bring down the urge to cough and get soothing relief.
3. Warm water gargle is important, because it can clear the pathogens away and also soothe the throat and soften the mucus too.
4. Allergens must be brought down to a large extent. This would bring down allergies too, since the immune system would not overreact to the substance. Check for pet dander, molds and mildew, dust particles etc around the house. Once a week, a vacuum cleaning should be done thoroughly to remove all dust and pet dander or molds from the house. Dust the bedsheets and magazines, books and the table, wash the linen in hot water and always shower before you sleep.
5. You should also learn how to manage Gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is horrible to have and is a digestive disorder, where some of the acid contents of the stomach go on a backflow, and return to the esophagus. This can irritate the throat and you could end up with dry coughing at night. You must talk to your doctor on how to manage such conditions, and do not eat foods that would trigger the heartburn. And always eat three hours before your bedtime!
6. You can even try OTC medications, cough suppressants and expectorants that can help bring down the dry coughing at night. When you take cough suppressants, the cough reflex would be blocked. With expectorants, the mucus in the lungs are thinned out and this makes it easier for you to cough and brings out the mucus and the length of the cough too.
7. Elevation is the key here and as mentioned, gravity plays a role in the cause of coughing at night. This happens mostly at night because you are lying flat on the bed, and making the mucus come back to the throat and form a pool. This irritates the throat and hence you cough. Using a post nasal drip and sleeping with the head slightly elevated according to your comfort would be the right thing to do.
8. Warm water gargling at night would be another way to hack off coughing at night , say holistic experts. This is because the use of salt water can thin and soften the mucus lined up and helps the back of the throat clear out too. A teaspoon of salt should be mixed with a glass of warm water and gargled every night before you sleep. Spit out the gargled water and rest.
9. If you smoke, you should stop. This is one of the reasons why dry cough at night happens, and mostly to smokers than non-smokers. The cough would come down over a few days, and not overnight when you quit smoking, say experts from the esteemed American Lung Association
10. If you have a saline nasal spray, using it to bring down the dry coughs at night would be really helpful. This is because it can help bring down the dryness of the airways and also wash off the thin mucus and the irritants, or even the allergens from the nose as well. Nasal sprays of such kinds have saline in them, which have salt and water that help thin the mucus.
11. Check with your doctor if you have symptoms of asthma. This is a condition which is long term and is a lung disorder which can inflame the pathways and narrow the airway. Hence it gets worse at night and the symptom is often a cough all too dry. Speak to your doctor for the same, and he may provide inhalers that can help bring down dry cough at night.
Now that we have given you an overview of what dry cough at night is and how to manage it, let’s take a look at the best home remedies that work. This is for those who do not wish to use commercially prepared best cough syrup for adults. However, if you do wish to use medication like tonics, suppressants or even potions for the same, you must consult a doctor first to avoid going on an overdose.
Home Remedies For Dry Cough At Night
Vaporubs Can Work
Sources from the esteemed Penn State College of Medicine state that both children and adults above 2 years of age found a lot of relief when they applied vaporubs on their chest and slept at night. It comes as no surprise to us with the same, since vaporubs are an amalgamation of ingredients such as eucalyptus oil, camphor and menthol; the three have been known to powerfully bring down congestion in the respiratory system.
Ginger tea, chamomile tea, or just about any liquor tea sans the milk, can be best had for relief when you have dry coughs, say experts. Ignoring a cough should be avoided altogether, and that is why warm liquids should be had, which helps bring down the inflammation in the throat. It also helps thin the mucus line and softens the membranes, which allows the phlegm flow to happen. If you are not into teas, you could try warm lime water or simply have warm water before you sleep.
Ever Heard Of Haldi Doodh?
For a very long time in India, mothers have always been giving their kids or anyone with dry coughs turmeric milk. In the west it is known as GOLDEN MILK. This is a traditional remedy that has worked wonders, where hot milk is mixed with a pinch of turmeric. Studies too have shown that the milk taken in this form helps the immune system fight pathogens and viruses, and brings relief too. This milk is the first thing that should be had every morning on an empty stomach or at night after your meal.
Gargle With Turmeric
If you hated the thought of gargling with salt water, you can alternate salt with turmeric. You get good results with the same, say holistic experts, because of the antibacterial properties of the spice. You would need a glass of warm water to which half a teaspoon of the spice should be added and mixed. And you may add a teaspoon of honey too, which further helps soothe the inflamed throat ways. Gargle with this water twice a day, and you will notice results.
If you do not wish to have one of the best cough syrup for adults, you can try honey to soothe the irritated throat lining and the lungs. Holistic experts swear by the use of honey to treat various ailments including dry cough. Honey when mixed with a pinch of pepper and consumed creates heat in the body. This helps kill pathogens and also softens the mucus membranes in the nose and the throat, and allows you to breathe and get relief from cough too. You can even mix honey with lime, which helps nourish the immune system and kill pathogens as well. But do have it before you sleep at night and preferably after your meal.
Try Dhooma Paan
In ayurveda, it is said when you inhale the smell of burnt turmeric, it is known as dhooma paan, which is a very effective way for those suffering from dry cough to find relief. What you need to do is to burn the root of turmeric when dry, and the smoke should be inhaled. Another way to do it is to place the root on hot charcoal pieces which are in a small earthenware pot. Place this pot on a cup of water and allow the fumes to gently rise. Inhale this smoke which emits and your respiratory tracts shall clear on its own.
Ginger Is Best
You can have fresh ginger if you suffer from a dry cough, by just chewing on a raw piece of it which is sprinkled with salt. A few minutes of chewing the raw ginger will help kill the bacteria and the pathogens. And if you do not like chewing on ginger, you can chop the root of ginger and let it sit in a cup of hot tea. Have ginger tea before you sleep for relief, experts from Common Cold Centre at the Cardiff University believe. They say that ginger tea helps promote the act of salivation and helps with mucus secretion too. This brings down dry cough symptoms to a large extent.
Basil And Ginger
The combo is helpful since it helps bring in the much needed antibacterial shields to fight viruses and bacteria that cause strepthroat and dry coughs at night. Crush the leaves of basil and ginger root together, and swallow the paste. You could also extract the juice and add it to your teas, and have it warm. Thrice a day, if you have this combination, the congestion would come down and you would find a lot of relief as well.
Warm Garlic Water
Garlic is antimicrobial by nature and this is why it is a valuable home remedy to use when you want to fight dry cough. The esteemed University of Maryland Medical Center cited a study stating that those who took garlic as a remedy to fight coughs fared better than those that depended on the best cough syrup for adults, best cough suppressants and placebos. What you need to do is to crush five cloves of garlic and saute it with clarified butter, and consume the same when it is still warm. You may also boil the cloves of garlic and have the water. This should be done twice a day and everyday until you find relief from dry cough at night, say holistic experts.
Jaggery Can Help Too
With dry cough, it seems that a lot of sputum build up happens and congestion too. This is why, to rid the issues from the respiratory tract, you need to have the sputum expelled. This would provide you a lot of relief from congestion and cough. At home, you can make the concotion, when you boil a few seeds of pepper with water. Strain the concentrate and add a little jaggery to it. Drink this twice a day to help decongest the respiratory system. You can also place jaggery in the middle of an onion and have it too, say holistic experts.
So here were some of the best home remedies that we found and have worked for people with dry coughs. However, since we also are learning about how to deal with dry cough at night, let’s take a look if OTC cough syrup for adults, best cough suppressants etc work or not.
Do cough syrups and suppressants work?
When looking for relief from dry coughs and common colds, and should you not want to use any of the home remedies spoken about, there are always best cough syrup for adults, best cough suppressants etc to try. They say relief is faster when using such medications, along with home remedies, but we would always ask you to check with your doctor first on the same lines, and then go ahead.
Apart from best cough syrup for adults and logenzes, there are also best cough suppressants that have active ingredients in them, such as dextromethorphan. They are big helpers when it comes to battling dry and hacking coughs. However, if you have coughs that produce phlegms and more, you would need to check with syrups that have expectorant properties. This is because, you not only need relief but you also have to get the airways cleared too and the mucus needs to be washed out of the airways as well. You get suppressants and expectorants across medical stores and online too, and some of them contain antihistamine, which is potent as an anti-inflammatory agent, which is why you are in a position to battle the coughs at night.
Points To Remember
There are different types of coughs, so one size does not fit all here. This means, the same medicine your mother might take for coughs, may or may not work for you.
Home remedies for dry coughing at night in most cases work better than OTC drugs. However, if the cough continues to last for more than five days, it is time for you to check with your doctor. There could be some underlying health issues of a mammoth kind to tackle!
If you suffer from allergies, asthma and more, without a doubt, you must consult a doctor first and then use his or her advise on whether you should use home remedies or whether you should use commercially produced best cough suppressants an expectorants!
Why check with a doctor?
While most home remedies mentioned in this article are known to provide relief, sometimes an expert’s help and advise would be best before we start. We are talking about coughing at night, which should be checked upon by a doctor if you have a fever quite high with it, or if you have coughed the nights off for more than a week. If you even see symptoms of blood, or you wheez when you cough, have chest pains or trouble taking a breath; checking with your doctor is a must. It is all because of a cause that the severity of coughing at night is determined. For example, if it is because of a common cold, then the cough would clear up in a few days. However, if there is an underlying lung and respiratory issue of the chronic kinds, the cough would be long term, and hence a doctor’s guidance would be needed.
Do follow what the doctors have to say and hope you do not experience dry cough again!