Night cough. Up all night. Help : ( - Sleep Matters

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Night cough. Up all night. Help : (

Mariechristine profile image

I am now up at 2:00am and just broke down crying because my cough is keeping me up.

So tired. I am 48 years old

It came out of nowhere about a month ago. I cough about 3 times a night. I noticed, like every 2 to 3 hours or so

I feel thin mucus that I can « pull » down my throat.

I don’t mind during the day but this cough keeps me up.

Did research on line : took cough syrup, bought a humidifier, raised my bed, take the same antihistamine i have been taking for years anyway. Nothing.

Last week, Saw an ENT who put some type of numbing spray in my nose. (To this day my nose feel raw and now drip constantly) like i needed anyone to make this worse. Unreal....

She says she sees nothing meanwhile i could feel some thin mucus in my throat.

She thinks it’s GERD. I am convinced it’s not. Took the anti acid meds she prescribed : NOTHING.

I pray the cough goes away on its own. I am So sad. I feel a tickle in my throat at times during the day also. Doesn’t bother me.

I want to sleep.

Please any advice. I don’t know what to do.

10 Replies

First of all, I am so sorry to hear that you are feeling so bad. I am glad you have already sought medical attention regarding this problem. Since it has been going on for a while and seems to be causing a significant amount of dysfunction to your daily life I would definitely recommend seeking treatment. You might consider getting another opinion from a different doctor. They might find something new of give you different advice to try.

As far and immediate relief, falling asleep while sick or experiencing physical discomfort can be quite difficult. My favorites for nights when I am struggling more with my insomnia are tea with some honey(I like camomile or lavender) putting a hot water washcloth over my face(this also helps sooth congestion), and playing a meditation track for falling asleep. I also take melatonin when I am particularly struggling and that usually knocks me out within an hour.

lilly1700 profile image
lilly1700 in reply to lilly1700

A short disclaimer I forgot to include above. These methods work for me but everyone is different. I have tried many recommendations over the years with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, finding what works best for you and creating a nightly ritual that has a decent amount success can take some time, trial and error. You might want to try google searching natural sleep-inducing methods for some things you can try using products you already own. Also, if you attempt using melatonin, be warned that frequent use has been known to make your body produce less of it naturally which can make you dependent among many other possible negative results. Be sure to research it before hand(as with any kind of sleep-inducer), take as infrequently as possible, and stick to the recommended dosage.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out!

Thank you much for your response.

I will keep you updated


Sorry to hear you're struggling with sleep and I hope it improves soon. I've had sleep apnea for yrs and I know how sleeplessness is detrimental to our over all well being. I'll give you my experience with antihistamines and also suggest a few things to look in to that may or may not be helpful.

As for me, I have reflux issues that weren't really solved by ppi and antihistamines. So I stopped taking them, the brand was zantac. Yrs later I was experiencing gastritis symptoms and decided to try another antihistamine brand pepcid ac. It helped but didn't take away all my symptoms which included a congested nose. All this to say maybe you can switch up the brands and see if it helps. I'd also like to suggest that you do a google search about dr oz and melatonin and reflux. In his video he mentioned that melatonin could help the valve that stops acid from entering the esophagus and throat. He suggested a specific dose as well. The bonus here is that melatonin helps with sleeping better too. A word of caution, long term use of melatonin supplements can effect the pineal glands production of the melatonin hormone.

Another option for sleep is a valerian root supplement which I've been using for using. Also, I take a magnesium supplement which helps the body to relax and promotes better sleep and one banana. That's my routine every night.

Million thanks for your long response. I am all over the place and trying pretty much any thing that might help.

I’d rather sleep at night and cough all day, which I don’t. I definitely feel some mucus in the back of my throat, i was chocked when Ent said : there’s nothing there 😳.

Seems i should learn how to go back to sleep than trying to treat this mucus / cough.

Sooo devastated. What’s next ......?

You're most welcome and I hope you find some relief. The ENT stuck the tube inside me and said everything looks okay even though I was seriously congested. GO figure. Forgot to mention that dairy can cause throat issues at times, have a look online or maybe cut it out for a week and see if you notice any improvement.

I am diary free ; )

Another chapter ....

Thank you again.

Just bought Delsym.

Last hope.

Take care

That's not a sleep issue. That's a sinus issue. Most likely it would fall under "postnasal drip" if you want to look for possible causes and solutions. Heartburn can cause increased mucus production for some people and antacids are often a poor solution that can make some people worse instead of better. If your doctor has no other ideas you may want to see if you can find another ENT that is a bit better at problem solving.

First I'd check humidity levels before running the humidifier. High humidity can also make sinus problems worse both directly or more often by helping nasty things like molds grow in your house. It may be better to add moisture directly to your sinuses than to the air.

You may want to try looking into nasal rinsing to help flush the excess mucus and irritants out. Always use purchased solutions or mix with sterile water to avoid causing sinus infections from tapwater contaminants. A less guaranteed but easier option is non-medicated nasal sprays. Steam inhalation is another very simple, no side effect option for increasing moisture and helping rinse the sinuses out.

There are a ton of variation out there for nasal sprays or rinsing with different additives. I even have a nasal spray with manuka honey in it that might have extra benefits for throat irritation. Most of the time it's probably just the act of rinsing your nose out with any sterile solution and doesn't much matter which one. Sometimes it does seem a specific one will help a specific person considerably more but it's hard to predict without a suspected cause. With our known mold issues I found a lot of relief with citridrops nasal spray and not much from any of the others I tried.

There are several otc options available that can reduce the excess mucus but they can cause problems if used longterm. Most things that reduce mucus tend to make it thicker and that can lead to things like sinus infections when the mucus that remains stops draining. It's preferred to try to thin the mucus and help it drain but that doesn't always work for everyone. If it's ruining their life anyway many feel things that dry up mucus are worth the downsides. At least until they or a more helpful doctor actually find the cause and a better solution.

Decongestants are one option such as Mucinex, afrid, sudafed, the antihistamines with D after them like zyrtec-D or Claritin-D.....

The early generation of antihistamines that includes benadryl or there are 2 stronger ones chlorpheniramine(often sold as chlor-tabs or similarly named) and doxylamine(unisom) have anticholineric action as well as reducing histamines. This causes your mucus and saliva to dry up and often stops a drippy nose. Unfortunately one of the main reasons why we avoid using 1st gen antihistamines is that anticholinergic part can result in a lot of minor and temporary but annoying side effects.

There are steroid nasal sprays that are available without prescription in most countries like flonase, rhinocort, nasalcort.... These have higher odds of causing more serious health problems if used in excess and less odds of helping a situation like this. Some do find it reduces their nasal drainage when used for a short time during allergy seasons and I've actually been prescribed a steroid nasal spray for more than a year by my doctor. Not that I always consistently use it since citridops is more helpful without the risks.

Thank you so much. You help is very much appreciated.

I asked the doctor if a lot of the « solutions » out there show immediate relief.

BecauseThat’s the issue I have : i am reluctant to rule something out because I have no idea if it should work « right away » , so i tend to go back and forth between treatments

ENT didn’t seem to know : « well, try for a few days, if you don’t get any relief, try something else🙄 »

Do you know if Antihistamines, decongestant.... taken at bedtime should work « right away »?

Thank you so much again.

Most decongestants work within minutes and only for a short time. The risk of problems goes down if you are only using these things at night since they work fast and wear off fast. When using them 24hours straight many decongestants recommend only around 3 days of use before taking a break.

Antihistamines vary. Zyrtec has an effect in 20-60mins while claritin can take several hours to start working and 8hrs to reach peak effectiveness so you often have to look up the specific one. 1st gen otc antihistamines tend to all be fairly quick compared to some newer ones.

Steroid sprays usually require 2-4weeks to see much benefit and are more a preventative of worsening symptoms rather than immediate relief.

Nasal rinses and nasal sprays often provide some relief right away but depending on the problem it may take several weeks of consistent use to get the full effect and have it last into the next day.

Things like this can be hard to diagnose the cause of so you end up doing a lot of try something, see what happens, and your reaction rules things out or points to certain problems. That's why people often resort to things that may not be good longterm but help keep them sane and living their lives until it's solved.

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