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How To Stop Coughing At Night

How To Help Your Coughing Child

Dr. Salil Malhotra Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Salil Malhotra on May 28, 2021

It’s normal for kids to cough from time to time, especially during the day when they’re running around outside. But some parents quickly discover that their children are more likely to cough at night when they’re lying down and trying to sleep. In the worst-case scenarios, coughing can make sleep impossible, both for kids and parents alike!

Luckily, there are many ways you can stop coughing at night and help your child if they seem to cough more frequently in bed than when they’re playing during the day. Let’s take a look at some of the causes and treatments for nighttime coughing.

Why Do Kids Sometimes Cough at Night?

Most children cough at night for the same reasons as adults: they either have something in their lungs or esophagus, or their esophageal tissue is irritated due to sickness, acid reflux, or other issues.

Coughs are reflexes that our bodies produce either to clear up the passageway between our mouths and lungs, or out of irritation, but kids sometimes cough more during the night than they do during the day. The lower activity levels and prone position from lying down in bed can irritate their lungs even more, or cause mucus to slide closer to the lungs.

Dry vs Wet Coughs – Different Causes

There are two types of coughs: dry and wet. “Wet” coughs, which are also called “productive” coughs, occur when mucus or phlegm is brought up by the cough to be spat out. These coughs are totally normal and are important to ensure that your child’s air passageway is clear.

Dry coughs are not productive. They’re usually signs that something is irritating your child’s air passageway or might point to a deeper health issue.

Dry coughs can be caused by:

  • Viral infections, which can irritate the esophageal tissue
  • Asthma, which causes the airways to swell and become more narrow, which can also make it difficult to breathe
  • Postnasal drip, which occurs when mucus from the nasal passageways drips down to the throat -- this happens more often at night since you’re lying down
  • Environmental irritants, which may cause debris to spread over the esophageal tissue
  • Other, more serious causes, such as Whooping Cough

Wet coughs can be caused by:

  • Mucus in the air passageway
  • Debris or mucus in the lungs
  • Mucus overproduction due to sickness, like from the common cold
  • Infections in the air passageway

How To Help Your Child If They’re Coughing at Night

Hearing your child endure repeated dry coughing can be tough. But there are lots of ways you can help them, either by treating the symptoms or treating the cause of dry coughing in the first place.

Clean Medicine

If your child’s coughing isn’t likely due to a more serious condition, you should first consider using clean medicine to treat the symptoms. Genexa has just the thing as they make medicine with the same active ingredients as leading brands, but without any artificial inactive ingredients.

Genexa’s Kids’ Cough & Congestion medicine is real medicine made with clean ingredients. More importantly, it’s made without unnecessary and synthetic inactive ingredients found in other common OTC formulas.

In fact, it only has ingredients to help your child sleep through the night. This powerful cough suppressant can both relieve chest congestion as well as help to thin and loosen mucus. This helps your child by ensuring that any following coughs will be productive, alleviating the core cause of many dry cough sessions.

With ingredients like dextromethorphan HBr, organic citrus extract, and purified water, Genexa’s cough medicine is made with the same active ingredients as Children's Mucinex but with without artificial inactive ingredients.

Incline the Head of Their Bed

Many kids cough more at night (and so do many adults) since lying down makes it easier for mucus to slide down the throat. Any existing mucus can also irritate your throat and lung tissue more easily.

Inclining the head of your child’s bed, such as by adding another pillow for them to sleep on, can do wonders for making nighttime coughing less frequent. This is a great trick to use with infants, who may not be able to adjust their position by themselves.

Humidifiers

You might also consider using a humidifier in your child’s bedroom, especially if you live in a dry climate or the winter months have sapped most of the ambient humidity out of the air. A humidifier can replace lost moisture, relieving irritation in your child’s throat.

Just be sure to refill the humidifier every night. It may take a couple of nights for the humidifier to noticeably change the humidity in the air, but this might turn out to be a great solution for both your child and yourself if you suffer from the same nighttime coughing issues.

Fluids

Similarly, give your child a glass of water before bed if you notice that they cough during the night more frequently than they do during the day. Kids aren’t the best at staying hydrated without some prodding from their parents.

But when they are properly hydrated, their esophageal tissue is less likely to be dry and irritated.

Cool Air

Your child’s lungs and esophageal tissue can further be irritated if their room is too warm or stuffy. Opening the window or lowering the temperature of the house by changing your AC settings might help relieve nighttime coughing by making the environment more pleasant to breathe in.

If your child's room is normally hot, consider opening the door or adding a fan by an open window for even more circulation.

Saline Drops

Saline drops, which are basically just drops of saltwater, can help to loosen congestion in the nose if your child’s dry coughing is mostly due to nasal issues or a common cold. A few drops should do the trick and cause any coughing to be wet/productive.

With this method, coughing may not stop instantaneously. But any future coughing should slow down and eventually disappear entirely once your child’s mucus is expelled.

What If My Child Has a More Serious Condition?

The above tips and tricks are great if your child is coughing due to preventable or mild causes. However, repeatedly dry coughing during the night can be indicative of other issues like:

  • Asthma, which causes the esophageal tissue to swell
  • Barky Cough, which also causes swelling in the upper airway. This condition comes from croup, which is characterized by swelling of the trachea and larynx. It also primarily affects kids aged three and younger.
  • Whooping Cough, which is an infection of your child’s airway by a type of bacteria

Each of these issues requires medical intervention. You’ll need to get prescription medicine in order to treat these conditions for the long-term. Fortunately, these are all well-understood ailments in children and your pediatrician should be able to point you in the right direction in no time.

Once you treat the underlying issue, the dry coughing during the night should also stop, or at least minimize.

Summary

Ultimately, stopping your child from dry coughing is important if you want them to get a quality night’s sleep. It may even help to try each of the strategies above in combination if one of them doesn’t do the trick by itself. Sometimes coughing occurs thanks to several causes, not just one.

Genexa is dedicated to reinventing the medicine industry and providing clean, wholesome medicine for parents and their kids. Thanks for joining us on this journey, we’re excited to have you!


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