Why Do I Have a Dry Cough at Night and in the Morning?

Medically Reviewed on 11/16/2022
Why Do I Have a Dry Cough at Night and in the Morning
Dry morning coughs are often the lingering effects of the common cold or flu

Dry coughing at night or in the morning may be caused by a persistent cold, flu, or allergy. Coughing allows your body to clear out irritants from your respiratory tract. 

At night when you sleep, mucus trickles down and collects in your throat and lungs. When you wake up, the mucus begins to break up, causing you to start coughing. A dry cough is unproductive, meaning that it does not produce phlegm.

8 causes of dry cough at night and in the morning

1. Cold or flu

Dry morning coughs are often the lingering effects of the common cold or flu. Viral infections typically last about a week, but symptoms like coughing may persist longer. The recovery process takes a bit longer if the virus infects the upper airway

2. Postnasal drip

When excess mucus from the nasal passage trickles down into the throat, it can trigger a cough. Substances can irritate the nasal membranes and produce thin, runny mucus. These include:

Other symptoms of post-nasal drip include:

3. Asthma

Asthma occurs due to the swelling and narrowing of the airways. With cough-variant asthma, a severe cough is the most common symptom and it may be wet or dry. The coughing is often worse at night or in the morning.

Other symptoms of asthma may include wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness or pain. However, these symptoms are rare in cough-variant asthma, which typically only causes a cough.

4. Allergies

Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander can trigger an array of symptoms, including a dry cough. For example, dust mites in your bedding could be causing you to cough at night. Pollen counts are generally highest in the morning, and can therefore cause a morning cough in people with pollen allergies. Other symptoms of allergies include:

5. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

When stomach acids travel upstream toward the esophagus, GERD occurs. These acids can irritate the nerves in the esophagus, thereby triggering a cough reflex. Other symptoms of GERD include:

6. Dry mouth

Dryness in the throat can cause irritation and lead to a cough. Dry mouth and throat may be caused by:

  • Not drinking sufficient fluids
  • Sleeping in a dry room
  • Sleeping with your mouth open.

Other symptoms of dry mouth may include:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hoarse voice

7. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

COPD is a group of diseases that causes chronic lung inflammation, leading to airflow obstruction and breathing disorders. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Coughing caused by COPD is usually worse in the morning, although it is typically wet, not dry. Other symptoms of COPD include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing 
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles

8. ACE inhibitors

ACE inhibitors are typically prescribed to control high blood pressure and can cause a dry cough that worsens at night or in the morning. If you have a mild cough, your doctor may prescribe another ACE inhibitor. However, if your cough is severe, your doctor may prescribe another class of antihypertensives like angiotensin receptor blockers.

How can you treat a dry cough?

Home remedies to manage dry cough include:

  • Sucking on cough drops or lozenges to soothe your throat and prevent irritation
  • Running a humidifier while sleeping to keep your throat moist
  • Inhaling steam to lubricate your throat
  • Irrigating the nasal passages to clear out irritants
  • Sleeping with your head elevated to prevent symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gargling with warm water to reduce throat inflammation
  • Swallowing honey to soothe a sore throat
  • Drinking plenty of water to keep your throat moist

If home remedies are not effective, your doctor may recommend the following medications:

  • Decongestants: Decongestants are over-the-counter medications that relieve congestion by limiting blood flow to the swollen tissue. This eventually causes it to shrink, thereby making breathing easier.
  • Cough suppressants and expectorants: Cough suppressants or antitussives work by blocking the cough reflex, whereas expectorants work by thinning the mucus to help you expel it more effectively. Antitussives are ideal for dry nighttime coughs because they prevent your cough reflex from working while you sleep.


Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 11/16/2022
Image Source: iStock image

That nagging cough. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/that-nagging-cough

What Does Your Cough Say About Your Illness? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-does-your-cough-say-about-your-illness/