Asthma Attack Asthma Attack

Asthma Attacks: Wheezing And Coughing At Night

Aren't you getting enough sleep because you’re wheezing, coughing and sneezing in bed at night? Good quality sleep is essential for everyone. Unfortunately, people with asthma might experience the mentioned night disturbance.

Feeling tired and irritated? You don’t get enough sleep because you’re wheezing, coughing, and sneezing in bed at night? Good quality sleep is essential for everyone. Unfortunately, people with asthma might experience the mentioned night disturbances.

Nighttime asthma, also known as nocturnal asthma, is the type of asthma that worsen at night. You may experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and sneezing in bed at night. Nocturnal asthma can affect your overall quality of life and make it more difficult to control your daytime asthma symptoms.

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Causes Of Asthma Attacks At Night

The exact causes of asthma attacks in bed at night are still not known. However, there are explanations for why you have been wheezing, coughing, and sneezing in bed at night. Including environmental factors such as an increased exposure topollution or indoor allergens. Furthermore, nocturnal asthma may also cause by the reclining position, cooling of airways or hormones. Sleep itself could also cause changes in the bronchial function.

Reclining position

Sleeping in a reclining position can cause wheezing and coughing in bed at night. It can also increase the volume of blood in the lungs, increase in airway resistance, the buildup of secretions in the airways and decreased lung volumes.

Increased in Sinusitis or Mucus

Your airways tend to narrow during sleep and build up the mucus in the swollen airways. This may trigger wheezing and coughing at night, which cause even more tightening of the airways. More drainage from your sinuses can also trigger asthma in highly sensitive airways, which is quite common.

Internal triggers

Asthma symptoms may occur during sleep whether you sleep at night or day. People who work at night may experience breathing attacks during the day when they are asleep or taking a rest. Most research shows that breathing tests are worse about 4 to 6 hours after you fall asleep. It suggests that there may be some internal triggers for sleep-related asthma.

Air conditioning

Sleeping with the air conditioning on or breathing colder air at night can cause nighttime asthma. Your airways may lose heat and the colder the air, the dryer the air. This triggers asthma, especially exercise-induced asthma, and nocturnal asthma.


Increase exposure to pollution or indoor allergens can trigger asthma. For example, the allergic substance from pets or dust mites in your living or bedroom. Traditional wood burning earthen stoves and exasperating fumes from kerosene heaters may cause asthma attacks at night.

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease

If you frequently experience heartburn, then the reflux of stomach acid rises through the esophagus to the larynx. This may stimulate a bronchial spasm, and it’s even worse when you’re lying down. Certain medications for asthma which relax the valve between the stomach and the esophagus may also worsen the situation. In some cases, the acid from the stomach irritates the lower esophagus. It may activate the vagus nerve that sends signals to the bronchial tubes that result in bronchoconstriction. Taking care of Gastroesophageal reflux disease and asthma with the right medications can often cure wheezing and coughing at night.

Late Phase Responds

The changes are high that airway obstruction or allergic asthma will occur shortly after being exposed to an allergen or asthma trigger. The acute asthma attack at night ends within one hour. Approximately 50% of the people who get an immediate reaction have a second response. The second phase of airway obstruction occurs within three to eight hours after being exposed to an allergen. It is also known as the late-stage answer, characterized by the development of bronchial inflammation, an increase in the airway responsiveness and a prolonged period of airway obstruction. Researchers have shown that exposure to an allergen in the evening increase the chances of having a late phase response and more severe.


The hormone levels in your body changes according to the circadian rhythms. Epinephrine is a hormone that keeps the muscle of in the walls of bronchi relaxed, so the airways remain full. It also suppresses the release of other substances like histamine, which cause bronchospasm and mucus secretion. The epinephrine levels are the lowest around 4 A.M. while the histamine levels tend to peak at the same time. This results in narrowing and inflammation of the bronchi, which explains nocturnal asthma during sleep.

Treatments For Wheezing And Coughing At Night

There is no cure yet for nocturnal asthma yet, but it can be controlled. The best way to prevent your wheezing and coughing in bed at night is to control your asthma in general. The central part of treating sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux is to monitor the allergens in the bedroom. This can minimize the night time symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing at night. The following treatments and lifestyle tips can help you sleep better.


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antihistamines
  • Bronchodilators
  • Corticosteroids
  • Inhaled glucocorticoids
  • Inhaled/oral B2 adrenergic agonists
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Steroids
  • Theophylline

Lifestyle adjustments

  • Use latex pillows and latex mattresses that are anti-dust mites
  • Keep your pets away and out of your bedroom
  • Install a humidifier in your room to maintain the air moist
  • Take your medicines on time so they continue to work throughout the night.

Nocturnal asthma is not uncommon since studies have shown that even healthy lungs function best from 12 P.M. to 4 P.M. and worst between 3 and 4 A.M. Doctors often underestimates nocturnal asthma while most deaths related to asthma symptoms occurs through wheezing, coughing, and sneezing at night. Nocturnal asthma needs a proper asthma diagnosis and an effective asthma treatment.

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