Irritable cough: causes at night and in the morning

Irritable cough or dry cough is a symptom that can have various causes.


Causes of dry cough

Environmental factors and lifestyle

  • Pets in the area
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Low humidity
  • Exposure to pollutants
  • Temperature fluctuations in air conditioning
  • Exposure to smoke or chemicals


  • Nasal congestion
  • Respiratory infection
  • Cold
  • Asbestosis
  • Laryngitis
  • Allergy
  • Asthma
  • Tracheitis
  • Bronchospasm
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Influenza – viral infections
  • Pulmonitis

Side effects of medicines for high blood pressure such as:

  • ACE inhibitors,
  • Sartans (AT1antagonists, act as inhibitors of the angiotensin II receptor).

Nocturnal cough

Respiratory infections are one of the most common causes of nocturnal cough. An awkward location and a heavy dinner can cause gastroesophageal reflux, which leads to uninterrupted coughing.

Other causes

  1. Asthma
  2. Sinusitis
  3. Smoke
  4. Heart disease (e.g. heart failure)
  5. Cold
  6. Allergic reaction

Dry cough in children

As a rule, dry cough in children does not have a serious origin.

Why does the child have a dry cough?
Factors that can trigger irritable cough in children:

  1. Viral infection such as cold and influenza
  2. Breathing dry heating air
  3. Cold
  4. Laryngitis
  5. Contact with environmental allergens or irritants
  6. Asthma (causes chronic cough)
  7. Whooping cough (causes dry cough that can last for months)
  8. Gastroesophageal reflux
  9. Pneumonia (especially in school-age children)
  10. Interstitial lung disease (less common in infants and young children)

If an infant suffers from coughing, it is better to consult a pediatrician.

Cough in the morning

Cause of morning dry cough

▶ Smokers
This is probably the most common reason for daily, morning cough. In extreme cases, the person may cough up blood in the morning.
The blood in the cough can be caused by:

  • Bursting of the capillaries of the weakened bronchi
  • Changes in the veins and arterioles of the lungs
  • Foreign body

Those who stop smoking may experience a worse cough (even in mucous or productive form) for a certain period of time than before.

▶ Asthma Asthma
is a chronic, inflammatory condition that can affect people of any age, including young children. There are inhalers to reduce symptoms.

▶ Retronasal dripping
The mucus from the paranasal sinuses slowly flows into the back of the throat, causing irritation.
Since the mucus runs backwards, this condition worsens when lying down and leads to coughing upon awakening.

▶ Gastroesophageal reflux
This is a condition that can provoke chronic nocturnal and morning cough. Gastric acid flows unexpectedly upwards. The problem is difficult to solve.
This disease is also characterized by:

  • Heartburn
  • Oesophagitis.

▶ Medications
taken for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors and sartans) can cause dry cough, which occurs especially persistently in the morning.

▶ COPD (chronic obstructive bronchitis)
The first sign of COPD is the morning cough. This lung disease is characterized by:

  • chronic bronchitis,
  • Emphysema.

It is characterized by massive mucus formation and catarrh, which leads to narrowing of the airways. The result is a reduced oxygen supply.
The patient coughs to clear the airways of the excessive mucus.
The cough is:

  • productive: with expectoration of mucus;
  • or dry: irritable cough without expectoration of bronchial mucus.

Chronic persistent irritable cough

Those who suffer from coughing for a long time may have a chronically dry cough.

Reasons for persistent cough

  1. One of the most common causes of chronic cough is mucus secretion in the back of the throat. If a person suffers from sinusitis, runny nose or any allergy, the mucus produced in the nose runs down the back of the throat.
  2. Asthma is one of the reasons for continued dry cough.
  3. Another reason is gastroesophageal reflux, which causes irritation in the throat and even in the lungs.
  4. Sometimes dry cough can also result from taking medications, especially angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
    This drug is prescribed to patients suffering from kidney disease, heart disease and arterial hypertension.
  5. Another cause of persistent irritable cough is lung cancer.

Cough after eating

Cough after meals can arise for various reasons.

Sudden cough can be a reflex reaction to small particles of food that have gotten into the respiratory tract.

Conditions that cause coughing after eating include:

Allergies and infections
Some people are allergic to certain foods and react with coughing after swallowing such substances.
There is an immune response, which provokes the cough immediately after eating.

Infectious diseases of the larynx and esophagus can lead to temporary dysfunction and thus to swallowing disorders when eating and drinking. The result can be an attack of suffocation.
This situation can cause coughing regardless of what you eat and drink.

Gastroesophageal reflux is provoked by a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter.
After eating, the sphincter is not able to retain the sour chyme in the stomach.
Part of the stomach contents therefore flow back into the esophagus.
This situation can cause coughing.

In case of reflux, follow these recommendations:

  • When sleeping, store the head higher than the stomach.
  • Do not drink anything after eating.
  • Avoid or reduce hard-to-digest foods, especially meat.
  • Avoid incorrect food combinations that slow digestion, such as proteins along with carbohydrates (for example, rice and beans).

Another condition is Zenker’s diverticulum, which forms at one point of the esophagus and causes coughing after eating.

Dysphagia is a disorder in which a person cannot swallow the food properly.
The human esophagus does not function correctly; Possible causes:

  • Obstruction
  • Peristalsis (muscle contraction of the digestive system) is absent or too weak to advance the chyme.

Because of this, the feeling of a blockage arises in the throat. This leads to coughing every time something is eaten.

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