Why is Asthma Worse at Night and How To Stop Coughing

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If you or your children have asthma, you’ve probably noticed that your symptoms can be worse at night.

This is an essential guide to managing your asthma at night, or for helping your children to sleep better.

Important Note: Asthma UK advises that night-time asthma is a sign that your asthma isn’t under control. This means you may be at risk of an asthma attack.

The charity also suggests that, if you experience symptoms in the morning, it could mean that your asthma was difficult through the night, even if it didn’t wake you up.

In any case, Asthma UK recommend visiting your GP or asthma nurse if your asthma’s keeping you awake, or if you get symptoms when you first wake up. You should also book an appointment if your children get asthma symptoms at night, or first thing in the morning.

Why is Asthma Worse at Night?

There are a few reasons why asthma can get worse at night, such as sleeping position, medicine, air temperature and air quality. If you understand the possible causes, you might be able to make some changes to help you sleep better.

How to Stop an Asthma Cough at Night

If your asthma symptoms wake you up – or if your child wakes up with symptoms – the first thing to do is sit up. This will help open the airways, so you can breathe better. If you or your child uses a reliever inhaler, take it. Use your spacer too, if you have one.

Before you try and go back to sleep, wait a short while to see if the reliever medicine’s dealt with the symptoms. Otherwise, you just might wake up again later with further asthma symptoms.

Always keep your inhaler and your spacer by your bed, or by your child’s bed. That way, you won’t have to look for them if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Sleeping Position and Asthma

Sleeping on your side or stomach can help you breathe easier. You can also try propping yourself up with pillows, which can help keep your airways open. If you sleep on your back, you can put extra pressure on your chest and lungs, which can make it harder to breathe.

Lying on your back can also make the mucus in your nose drip to the back of your throat, which can trigger a cough.

How Asthma Medicine Can Affect Sleep

Some people experience certain side effects from their asthma medicine, including difficulties sleeping.

This is one reason why it’s important to see your doctor if your asthma gets worse at night. They might put you on a different medication, or they might advise you on the best time to take your medicine.

For example, some people manage their asthma with steroid tablets, which can cause sleeping issues. But taking these pills after food in the morning can help you sleep better.

Hot & Cold Air Can Trigger Asthma

Both hot air and cold air can trigger asthma symptoms. It’s important to get the temperature in your room just right. Hot air can narrow the airways, making it harder to breathe. So on warm nights, use a fan to help keep you or your child cool.

On cold nights, you’ll want to make things warm, but not too warm. So keep the windows shut, and put the heating on low.

Improve Air Quality to Reduce Asthma at Night

The air in your room can contain dust mites, pet dander, and mould. All of these are common asthma triggers. You could open the window to help circulate the air in your room but this can let pollen in, which is another asthma trigger. And as we’ve seen, cold air can also make it harder to breathe.

So try sleeping with an air purifier to improve the air quality in your room. A good air purifier can remove 99% of the particles in the air, helping you and your children to breathe easier and stay on top of your asthma symptoms at night.

Head here to learn more about how air purifiers can help you and your children sleep better with asthma.

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