Typically, a cough doesn’t signify just one illness or condition. A cough is a very common symptom and could be indicative of several or a combination of conditions.

  • If you have a cold, your cough is likely due to a postnasal drip and may be helped by a decongestant.
  • Allergies may also cause a nighttime cough. If you only cough at night, you may be allergic to something in your home. Dust mites are a likely culprit as they can live in pillows and blankets. Try washing bedding once a week in hot water.
  • If you have asthma, it could be irritated by dust or pet dander when you lay down. Consult your doctor about these possible triggers.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but heartburn can also cause a nighttime cough. Lying horizontally can cause stomach acid to move into your esophagus, which irritates the throat and can make you cough.  Start with over-the-counter heart burn medication, but if it doesn’t improve after a few days, it’s best to see your doctor.
  • Some blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors) can cause coughing. Be sure to consult with your doctor before changing or stopping any medications, though. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication.

A nighttime cough is irritating and can cause lasting effects during the day, especially if you’re losing sleep. If you’re healthy except for the cough, try treating the cough yourself and following up with your doctor as needed.

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