Night time Coughing – What Are the Causes and What Are the Different Treatment Options

Night time Coughing

A nagging and persistent nighttime coughing is worrisome; worrisome, because it deprives you of quality sleep.    While it is not able to pinpoint the exact cause for nighttime coughing, there are ways to tell what might be causing it.

Primary Causes for Nighttime coughing



Mitchell Blass, MD, reasoned out that gastroesophageal reflux is a major cause for nighttime coughing.  Gastroesophageal reflux allows excess mucus accumulation at the back of the throat.  This excess accumulation irritates the throat and increases the urge to cough.  The best way to prevent mucus pooling is to elevate your head position by adding more pillows.

Viral Cough

Viral cough takes a day or two to show up.   Full-fledged symptoms are observed after 2-3 days.  Then the symptoms start to abate.  But nighttime coughing may persist even after the infection clears; at least for about 3-4 weeks.  This is because the airway inflammation takes some time to clear.

asthma girl


The airway tubes of a person suffering from asthma are found to be narrowed due to which any external stimuli or foreign particles can easily irritate the tracheobronchial smooth muscles triggering the urge to cough.

Respiratory Diseases

Tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, or sinusitis can also cause nighttime coughing.


In people with sinusitis, mucus drips down the throat causing throat irritation and the urge to cough during nighttime.

Prevent Nighttime coughing

Various Treatment Options to Prevent Nighttime coughing

  • Steam inhalation:  Boil plain or medicated water in a kettle and inhale the steam.  It not only clears the mucus but also helps you breathe easily.
  • Elevate head position.  You can use an extra pillow.  It helps you breathe easier.
  • Nasal drops to clear runny nose.
  • Cough lozenges (Menthol or Honey).  Eases breathing.
  • Over-the-counter dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant that helps stop nighttime coughing.
  • Antihistamines like brompheniramine, diphenhydramine, and doxylamine to treat nasal congestion.
  • Expectorant.  Expectorant helps loosen mucus making it easier to cough up.


Natural Remedies to Prevent Nighttime Coughing

Steam Inhalation: Inhaling medicated or plain steam vapor from a kettle is a nice treatment option for nighttime coughing.  The steam vapor reduces irritation and the urge to cough by soothing the throat lining.  To medicate the boiling water, mix essential oil of eucalyptus, mentholatum, or Vicks VapoRub.

Salt Water Gargling:  Salt is known for its antibacterial qualities.  Salt water gargling helps clears throat dryness as well as reduce throat swelling.  Avoid excessive salt water gargling to prevent dry mouth.

Turmeric:  The health benefits of turmeric are numerous.  To soothe throat lining and loosen mucus, turmeric helps.  To a cup of hot water, add 1 tbsp of turmeric, 1 tsp honey, and a pinch of pepper and boil it.  Drink the mixture twice daily until you are relieved from the cough.

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