Log in
Asthma UK community forum
12,862 members18,486 posts

Dry coughing waking me up during the evening

Hello all

I have for the last 4-5 months now had a dry cough which is driving me insane! I was a smoker for 15-17 years and stopped 9 weeks ago. The cough started during the day and then went and now its waking me up every night from my sleep, it feels like a feather is tickling my throat and I am trying to clear it all the time its the most annoying thing.

I saw my GP, he sent me for a chest xray which was normal & now he is sending me for a spirometry and reversibility test which is next week, he also gave me an inhaler which does help me when I feel blocked up in my throat and feel I am starved for air, which is nearly every single day! Its honestly the worst thing! I have anxiety and I think it is making me feel worse!

This blocked sound coming from my throat started 14 months ago again with a cough and the chest xray last year was clear also.

Does this sound like asthma, what if the lung function tests show normal, what then? Sorry I am just very nervous as to what might be going on and scared this is actually lung cancer!!

I am 36, female.

Thank you for reading

17 Replies

I woke up last night, in the middle of the night with the dry tickly cough,. That for me, is an asthma problem,. For me, probably brought on by the pollen which is rising atm. If your lungs are clear then its unlikely to be lung cancer. The whole point of seeing if the whole air shortage thing is reversible is to see if asthma ( reversible) or copd( not reversible) are causing your problem.

The next step would be to see which medication relieves it, and maybe to work out what is causing it. I tried lots of different inhalers and inhibitors before i found one that really suited me. Waking up last night with the tickly cough was very unusual, probably the first time its happened in 6 months, but i used to wake up every night before i was treated.

My readings were fairly normal in the docs and i was only really diagnosed when i did a methacholine challenge test at the hospital.... The hospital also did allergy tests all the way down my arms to see what i was irritated by. In my case its grass and weeds. Well worth knowing your triggers.

The onset of the asthma symptoms sometimes show up when you stop smoking because the cigarette smoke keeps the tubes stiff so they dont close up ( or work properly). Well done for stopping, dont even consider going back. I downloaded a quit meter from whyquit.com which is still running on my computer and keeps a count of how many cigarettes i havent smoked. (52,000 last time i looked). Brilliant for motivation.



Hello galathea

Thank you for responding, it is seriously driving me crazy, the cough is originating from my throat, the crawling tickly feeling is what is provoking my cough, I also get a cold air sensation when I breathe in deeply like I have been sucking a mint, have you heard or experienced this before.

I am going to download the quit meter sounds very good, with this throat of mine I have not even thought about cigarettes. I am hoping that the lung function tests show an improvement when they give me some meds and then test again, my anxiety makes me so bad, I have a sp02 monitor also and it reads between 97-98% every day, as previously mentioned, the thought of an un diagnosed lung cancer scares me silly!

I have got a 'blocked sound' from my throat every day when I breathe in deeply and it feels like I have to take deep breathes to feel air satisfied, its so strange, the ventolin given does take the blocked feeling away and feels like air is actually reaching my throat, the feeling is like breathing through a straw at times when I breathe through my nose.....

My son has severe asthma and my gran did when she was in her 40's (so I am told)

Thank you for listening.


Hi great advice from galathea and I can't add anything medically to it.

One tip which might help is as it is common to have an intolerance to dust mites make sure you wash all your bedding in at least 60 degrees to kill them. This can often make you cough at night. Also using an extra pillow can help too.

1 like

Thank you lilaclil - I have been trying to sleep propped up when I get into bed, I somehow manage to wriggle out of this position and end up sleeping 'normally' when this cough starts when sleeping :( - it is making me so depressed and anxious!

Thanks for your reply :)


You are welcome. I often get a dry cough which wakes me up, but then I am still smoking which I know is stupid.

One tip is not to cough lying down as it is harder to cough it up. So when it happens sit up , have your cough, then you will sleep better.


Hi again

Oh try and stop smoking, if you can :) - I know its hard!

I have a dry cough very rarely does anything come up. About for 3 weeks after I stopped smoking I was bringing up brownish stuff (sorry for the description) sometimes I still get this other times its clear sticky stuff, I just want a diagnosis - after 14 months its getting a little silly now for them to assume what is going on.


Hi Kayanne hope you feel better soon I to suffer with dry coughs especially of a night I also packed smoking in November gone am also allergic to dust see if u can have an allergy test to try and point out what's triggering your cough I also keep my windows open of a night and maybe buy a salt lamp to keep the air clear good luck 👌

1 like

Hi Sarahjane12

Thank you for your reply. I keep my windows open too and I am definitely allergic to cats BUT I have 3! They do not sleep in my bedroom however this only started 14 months ago seems to have left me and now back with a vengeance.


I'm an asthmatic and my lung function tests always come back good because my asthma is under control and I'm mainly a reactive asthmatic; as in I'm fine until i come in contact with a trigger and then my lungs seize up.

This is a horrid question but when you cough do you bring anything up? I ask because my brother-in-law gave up smoking two years ago and for a good year after he had a cough and brought up horrible black tar like substances


Hi there thanks for the reply. No, when I cough its a dry bark like cough. Sometimes during the day i have stuff come up but its sometimes clear sticky stuff or in the early weeks of quitting it had a brown tinge to it.


Just thought of something else which may help.

One of my sisters had a dry cough (not a smoker or any lung problems) for years and doctors all dismissed it. She did some research and wonder if she was intolerant to dairy food which is quite common.

She stopped all dairy then reintroduced it one item at a time and she found she was intolerant of cows milk and ice cream. She keeps those out of her diet now and the cough has stopped completely.

1 like

Thanks you again lilaclil - I am willing to try anything - did not cough last night (well a cough that woke me) but I am going for those lung function tests next week so I am interested to see what that shows if I am honest, I just want to get this resolved.

My Blood test checking my white & red blood cells etc, have come back within normal range today (that offers a little bit of reassurance to me at least)

1 like

Good luck with those and I hope you get a diagnosis and help. Hoping there is nothing wrong though.....


Thanks me too - dreading the C word!

1 like

It's very unlikely to be the C word and much more likely to be something minor or nothing at all. Hold on to that.

1 like

Thanks lilaclil, I will try - will update once I have the tests :)

Have a good Easter x


Hi all

Sorry for the delayed response. I had the spirometrey tests and there was not significant improvement in the test pre/post the inhaler therefore the GP has said it is a normal test and I do not have asthma or COPD.

I have now been given a steroid nasal spray to use every day pref in the evening before bed, the cough is still waking me up :(

My throat is tight, it scratches when I breathe in, the tight wheezing sound is still in my throat, I am still using the inhaler which takes the sound away....what more can I do??

GP has said I need to complete the spray and report back to him, if the cough has not gone or got better he will be looking into the more rarer forms of a persistent cough....i.e. the C word.....I am petrified....


You may also like...