How To Treat This Annoying Seasonal Health Condition
Fall is here. And with fall comes a battle against one of the more annoying health conditions.
Depending on where you live in America, you may have noticed the seasons changing, or you might feel like today’s just the same as July.
Regardless, as fall and winter set in, the changing barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity can lead to persistent and annoying coughs.
You don’t even have to be really sick to catch one of these. But if you do come down with a cough, it can take a bit of time before it decides to leave.
It’s especially annoying when the cough you have only flares up at night. These night-time coughs have all different kinds of causes (sinus infections, allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, GERD, common cold, flu) and are doubly hard to get rid of because they happen when you’re body should be healing itself.
Many of my patients wonder if there’s anything outside of standard medical treatment they can do to reduce the severity and length of these coughs.
The answer is yes.
There are a number of non-medical interventions you can pursue to ease a persistent night-time cough.
I’ve collected a few of the most effective below.
5 Simple Ways
to Get Rid Of A Night-time Cough
1 - Get your acid reflux under control: Surprisingly, acid reflux is one of the most common causes for night-time coughs. So if you know you have GERD, then adopting a diet to help balance out your production of stomach acid should help reduce how much you cough at night.
My recommendations for GERD management are twofold.
First, stop eating foods that are known to promote stomach acid imbalances. These include gluten, dairy, soy, and other proinflammatory foods. The second is to stop taking proton pump inhibitors. These drugs have been shown to actually exacerbate the severity of GERD and this may make your night-time coughing even worse.
My belief is, if you fix your diet then reversing GERD entirely is possible.
2 - Control potential allergens: People tend to associate allergy season only with the spring and summer. Not true. Allergens are a persistent nuisance year-round and the fall and winter months tend to promote a different kind of fight with allergens,
Dry, cold weather causes an increase in pet dander and dead skin cells. Plus, when trees drop their leaves, they also drop other kinds of irritants which can make a nasty cough go on forever.
Which means you should do your due diligence and keep allergen levels low.
There are a few simple ways to do this.
+ Get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. That traps allergens and gets them out of the air.
+ Say goodbye to dust magnets. You want to reduce the number of surfaces that hold allergens, so this means taking things like books, magazines, and other dust traps out of your bedroom.
+ Use a Swiffer Sweeper. If your bedroom collects a lot of dust (as most do) then a Swiffer Sweeper is a great tool to use. These lock dust up so you can get it out of your room.
+ Wash your sheets weekly in hot water. Doing this will help reduce the amount of dead skin cells in the air.
+ Take a shower before bed. This will trap dead-skin cells which are allergenic and keep them from making it into the bedroom.
3 - Sleep with a humidifier: I know some people are dismissive of using humidifiers, believing they don’t help that much. That’s not true, but I do have a health note about humidifiers I’ll add here in a moment.
As the seasons change, the dry air may irritate your sensitive airways. The irritation can lead to excessive coughing and an inability to heal.
Increasing the ambient humidity inside a bedroom has the power to increase moisture in the airways which might help to reduce the length and severity of a cough.
But you don’t want to overdo it. Too much moisture can lead to the growth of mold, and if you don’t clean your humidifier every week or so, then bacteria may form in the humidifier before it’s circulated back through your room.
For that reason, you need to clean your humidifier often. Every week with white vinegar is really all it takes. And you should try and keep the humidity in the room around 50%. To achieve this, you can buy a cheap hygrometer from the hardware store and measure your room’s total humidity levels.
4 - Turn to immune-enhancing supplements: If you’re dealing with a persistent cough then there’s a chance your immune system needs some support.
Fortunately, there’s wide variety of supplements you can take that’ll help give your immune system some added cough-fighting ability.
My recommendations include:
Peppermint tea with honey: Hot peppermint tea with honey has a twofold effect on your immune system’s health. Peppermint is a known antibacterial and may give your immune system some added help.
Honey is also a known antibacterial, so the combination is believed to help your body fight possible pathogenic invasions. Honey is also extremely soothing to irritated mucous membranes.
- Vitamin C (1,000 mg 3-4x daily): This powerful antioxidant is one of the best for helping boost immune function and gives your body a boost in killer T-cells to help keep illness at bay.
- Licorice root (500 mg 4x daily): If you’re trying to get a quick immune boost then I propose anyone who doesn’t have high blood pressure try out licorice root. There are quite a few teas out there containing licorice root and they’re tasty and can be mixed with honey to amplify the benefits.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC) (300-500 mg 2x daily): I’ve written about NAC extensively, as it’s one of the building blocks for the body’s major antioxidant, glutathione. For people with a nagging cough it can reduce the thickness of built up phlegm and also serves as an immune booster
5 - Sleep with your head elevated: This is one of the best tips around.
If your cough is caused by excess mucus then lying flat on your back will cause it to drip down your throat and will collect in there which results in a constant, involuntary hack to clear your throat. By sleeping with your head slightly elevated, mucus will slide down your throat and won't cause as much irritation.
I’ve found this helps a lot of people who are challenged by a night-time cough. You can experiment with what position works best, but so long as you’ve got your head above your stomach, it should work out for you.
Those are my top 5 go-to remedies for a seasonal nighttime cough. Try any of them the next time you develop one.