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Dry Cough Interrupting Your Sleep? Learn How to Ease the Cough and Get a Good Night's Rest

written by: Carmen Tomas • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/13/2010

Waking up with a dry cough more than a few times a month? This type of cough interrupts sleep and could leave you feeling groggy and tired the next day. Learn what the causes might be.

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    A dry cough at night can be irritating, frustrating and can leave you feeling fatigued. If you are one of the unfortunate people that suffer from a dry nighttime cough, sleep is almost impossible. Learn whether your cough is something that can easily be treated or if it is a symptom of something more serious.

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    A dry cough is also referred to as a nonproductive cough because it does not produce any sputum or phlegm. There are many causes of dry cough. The most common are:

    • Exposure to fumes, dust and chemicals in the home or work environment
    • Allergies, such as allergic rhinitis
    • Mild cases of asthma
    • Medication to control high blood pressure, like ACE inhibitors
    • Common cold or flu
    • Bronchospasms
    • Lifestyle choices, such as chain smoking
    • Seasonal weather and temperature changes
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    Nighttime Dry Cough

    Your cough could also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. If your cough does not go away or gets increasingly worse, see your physician who can diagnose the cause.

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    Nocturnal Asthma

    Asthma is a very common cause of dry cough that could get worse during the night when sleeping. Some asthmatics may not be aware that they wheeze when they cough during the night which is why the condition is often overlooked. Asthma medications may be prescribed to control the symptoms and their underlying cause. Since nocturnal asthma happens when you are sleeping at night, treatment must cover sleep hours to relieve the symptoms of the dry cough. Inhaled steroids, long lasting bronchodilator and corticosteroid are effective in preventing bronchospasm and other symptoms of nighttime asthma.

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    Very thick post-nasal drip or post-nasal drainage may be the reason for your severe dry cough at night. Pain in parts of your face often accompany the cough with this illness. Although very rare, serious complications and brain infection can result from acute sinusitis. There are many available treatments for sinusitis, including conventional medication or treatments which may involve surgical procedures to alternative medicine like lavender, tea tree oil and Chinese herbs.

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    GERD sometimes causes a nighttime cough. When the stomach acid travels up the esophagus and into the larynx and your throat, damage is done on the tissues which could bring about the symptoms of GERD such as hoarseness, chronic sore throat and dry cough. The dry cough is usually more severe at night, within two to three hours from falling asleep. Lifestyle choices are really the best treatment for GERD. Avoid foods that are known to cause acid reflux, do not go directly to sleep after eating a meal and losing weight if you are overweight will help relieve symptoms of GERD.

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    The best way to know the root cause of your nighttime dry cough is to discuss fully with your doctor all the symptoms that you are experiencing so that it can be treated effectively.

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