Four Causes for Irritating Nighttime Cough

Nighttime coughing can be a disturbing symptoms that causes you to lose much needed rest. Here are four less commonly recognized causes of persistent cough at night.

Do you experience persistent, unexplained nighttime coughing? You may feel fine otherwise but that nasty little cough persists night after night, disturbing your sleep. If you’ve seen your doctor and no obvious cause could be found, you could be experiencing one of these less commonly considered causes of nighttime coughing:


It may surprise you to learn that certain commonly used medications can increase your risk for developing a cough. One particularly important group of medications that can do this are the ACE inhibitors, used to control high blood pressure. If you’re taking blood pressure medication or any medications for that matter, ask your doctor if the prescriptions you’re taking could be causing your nighttime coughing. He may be able to switch you to another class of medications that won’t have this side effect.

Post Nasal Drainage

Post nasal drainage is a common cause of nighttime coughing. If you suffer from allergies or chronic sinus problems, the result may be chronic drainage of secretions into the back of the throat when you lie down at night. If you experience allergies, your physician may be able to prescribe medications or a nasal steroid spray to reduce mucous production and inflammation which can reduce the severity of coughing.


Sometimes undiagnosed asthma can present with nighttime cough and surprisingly few other symptoms. You don’t necessarily have to have the classic picture of shortness of breath and chest tightness to have asthma. Some clues that a mild case of asthma may be causing nighttime coughing are if your cough worsens after heavy exertion or exposure to cold air. Check with your doctor if you believe asthma may be causing your symptoms. He may be able to give you an inhaler to use at night that will help stop your nighttime coughing.

Acid Reflux or GERD

This is a little known cause of chronic nighttime coughing. If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux disease, your only symptom may be chronic nighttime coughing when you lie down to sleep. When the flap that separates the esophagus from the stomach isn’t working properly, acid can back up into your esophagus and even into the lungs causing cough when you lie down. Your doctor may be able to give you a pill that helps to suppress production of acid which can alleviate your symptom of nighttime coughing.

If you are experiencing nighttime coughing, it’s important that you receive a thorough evaluation as infections and more serious diseases can cause coughing at night. If there’s no obvious infection or evidence of more serious pathology, urge your doctor to consider these other potential causes of nighttime coughing.

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  1. My husband literally only starts coughing when he lays down at night. He works at a place where he is in and out of the freezer, lifting heavy (95lbs) boxes of meat, creating orders for restaraunts and local schools. We no longer sleep together. And havent for about a month now. I’m really tired of it. I almost think he’s faking. But I hear him hacking in the other room all night too, so maybe its not me. Can someone tell me what he can take to stop this?

  2. well I’m not sure what he can take but, geeze, I’m sure he’s really tired of it too! I have the same problem and it is really irritating and exhausting because it makes sleeping damn near impossible. He’s probably going to have to go to the doctor. It may be asthma and you need an inhaler for that.

  3. Has he been checked for any of the above conditions? My husband would get a terrible chronic cough after even the slightest cold that would not go away and was prevalent at night. It was determined that he had GERD and aspirates (breathes in) refluxed material when he sleeps. By treating the reflux problem, his cough resolved over a few weeks. His physician prescribed proton-pump inhibitor, restricted his diet (no tomatoes, fried foods, citrus, chocolate), and he elevated the head of his bed 6 inches. Also no eating within 2 hours of bedtime.

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