It seems like the hallmark of every “sick day,” the part where it gets worse before it gets better: the nighttime coughing battle. Coughs naturally get worse at night, and our Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists took a closer look at the science behind why this happens.
The strange thing about coughing is that it doesn’t always come with the flu or cold–it can show up, all by itself, just when you need rest the most. Whether your cough is an unannounced visitor or a side-effect of a bug you’re fighting off, it’s common for coughing to get worse the minute your head hits the pillow. Why is this? Well, it all comes down to science: the science of our bodies, the science of the Earth, and the place where the two would overlap if they were on a Venn diagram.
A Closer Look
So, why do coughs always get worse at night? Let our Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists explain!
- Gravity. The science of the Earth is actually working against us when it comes to nighttime coughs. Whether they’re unannounced or side-effects of an illness, coughs get worse when we lie down–and this is because gravity causes mucus to pool, which triggers the gastroesophageal reflex. In order to overcome this, it’s best to sleep propped up a little by a pillow; in this case, elevation beats gravity.
- Medications. If your cough doesn’t seem directly related to an illness, it may still be a side-effect–but the side-effect of the medication. Some medicines state that “A dry cough” is one of the symptoms, and even if this isn’t a problem during the day, it may strike with a vengeance at night.
- Environment. Often, the indoor environment is extremely dry, and this can aggravate the nose and throat–and make any existing issue even worse. You can use a humidifier to solve this problem, but be sure to read all of the instructions and use clean, sterilized water, or you’ll risk putting bacteria right into the air you’re breathing.
Interested in more info on nighttime coughing? Looking for Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists? Contact us at (208) 367-3320 today!