Coughing And Throwing Up At Night
Coughing And Throwing Up At Night: “Have you been throwing up at night?” That’s what my friend asked me when I called her to tell her about my recent bout with a bad cold. “Yes,” I replied. I was coughing so much one morning that I actually threw up.
I had an allergic reaction to something I ate for dinner, which then caused postnasal drip — the mucus that is produced drips down the throat, triggering coughing bouts that can cause vomiting. This happened because my body mistakenly believed I’d eaten food infected with bacteria or virus. It took more than 24 hours for the cough to clear up completely, but it did eventually subside enough for me to go back to work.
If you’ve ever experienced a similar situation, you know how distressing it can be. You’re not alone; many people who have allergies experience nighttime coughing fits as well. Postnasal drip accounts for approximately 30 percent of cases of coughing during sleep. Asthma sufferers may find themselves having trouble sleeping through the night due to their chronic bronchial inflammation. Some asthma patients even suffer from severe coughing episodes that wake them up in the middle of the night.
But don’t worry if your condition takes place mainly during the daytime. A few tips and tricks can help you get some much-needed restful shut eye without resorting to over-the-counter cough suppressants. We’ll discuss them on the following pages.
Identify Your Allergens
The first step toward finding relief is figuring out exactly what triggers your allergy attacks. To do this, keep a diary or log that tracks any foods you eat or medications you take.
Once you have identified your allergens, try eating different types of foods, such as spices, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, throughout the week. By doing this, you will determine whether certain foods aggravate your symptoms. If they do, avoid those particular items altogether. Once you identify the trigger behind your allergy, look into taking an antihistamine tablet (such as Benadryl) before going to bed each evening.
Keep your bedroom free of household dust, animal hair, smoke, and other irritants. Get rid of stuffed animals and soft toys to eliminate the possibility of children or pets bringing allergens into the house. Also, clean your room thoroughly every day to remove germs and pollen that could set off another round of sneezes and coughing.
If you live near open fields, pollens such as ragweed can wreak havoc on your respiratory system. Ragweed grows in tall grasslands and flowery areas. During the spring, summer, and fall months, ragweed releases tiny airborne particles known as pollen. Pollen grains contain proteins that bind to human antibodies. When these pollen grains enter the air, our immune systems react by releasing histamines, causing the eyes to water, nasal passages to swell, and breathing to become difficult.
Allergy sufferers may develop hay fever, which causes sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and itchy, scratchy eyes. There are two types of hay fever: episodic and perennial. Episodic hay fever occurs only during times of exposure to allergens. People suffering from perennial hay fever have constant reactions to allergens. Hay fever symptoms usually disappear within 20 minutes after exposure to allergens has ceased.
Treat Your Symptoms
After identifying your allergens, treat your symptoms accordingly. Take short breaks between coughing periods. Don’t lie around too long, though. Try walking outside to give yourself time to recover. If you need to see someone, make sure to call ahead of time so you won’t miss your appointment.
To relieve nasal congestion, use a neti pot, steam inhaler, vaporizer, humidifier, or saline spray. Neti pots, made of clay or plastic, are used primarily for cleansing the sinuses. Steam inhalers create moisture and heat inside the nostrils to loosen mucus and promote drainage. Vaporizers warm dry air molecules to stimulate nerves in the nasal cavity. Humidifiers add moisture to the air while using warm water to release trapped moisture. Saline sprays moisten nasal membranes to ease irritation and soothe inflamed tissue.
When choosing a decongestant medication, choose one that contains both sympathomimetic amines (such as pseudoephedrine) and phenylephrine hydrochloride. Sympathomimetics dilate blood vessels, allowing for increased flow of oxygenated blood to the lungs. Phenylephrine relaxes muscle tissues in the nasal cavity and pharynx to reduce swelling and itching. Decongestants should never be taken within three hours of consuming alcohol.
Avoid Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption increases the severity of allergic responses. Drinking beer, wine, and liquor makes it easier for yeast fungus and bacteria to grow in the mouth. In addition, alcohol contributes to dehydration, which dehydrates the lining of the esophagus and stomach and reduces the amount of saliva secreted by the salivary glands. Therefore, drinking alcohol prior to going to bed may lead to difficulty swallowing and choking, especially in elderly individuals.
Take OTC Medications
Over-the-counter medicines provide temporary relief from allergy symptoms until your next scheduled dose. However, since most over-the-counter remedies have limited effectiveness against allergy symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
Aromatherapy oils, such as eucalyptus, rosemary, chamomile, lavender, and peppermint, may help ease congestion and alleviate discomfort associated with allergies. They act as natural expectorants, meaning they thin and loosen thickened mucus in the chest and upper respiratory tract [sources: Tugwell].
Vitamins such as vitamin B complex, vitamin C, zinc supplements, and Echinacea herbs may improve immunity. Vitamin E and zinc reduce inflammatory response. Zinc strengthens the immune system and fights infection. Vitamins C and E increase circulation, thereby reducing the risk of bruising. Echinacea stimulates white blood cell development, which helps fight infections.
Lip balm containing petroleum jelly or hydrocortisone ointment provides soothing relief for irritated skin. Aspirin relieves pain and prevents bleeding gums. Ibuprofen relieves pain and controls fever. Avoid taking aspirin close to bedtime, however, as its effects are generally felt within half an hour. Use loperamide to control diarrhea. Be careful not to overuse nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen, and celebrex, which can cause gastrointestinal problems and kidney damage.
In addition to avoiding allergens, washing your hands frequently may lessen the frequency of your coughing spells. Wash your hands often, particularly after touching bodily fluids, surfaces contaminated with viruses and bacteria, and other objects that might carry illness. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after changing diapers, blowing noses, coughing, sneezing, and touching trashcans and toilet seats. Using antibacterial soap and hot water kills 99.9 percent of harmful microbes. Handwashing stations are located in public restrooms throughout the United States.
Don’t smoke! Smoking cigarettes is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. Cigarette smoking interferes with the ability of your body to fight disease and injury. Tobacco smokers have higher rates of lung cancer and heart attack than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking improves health dramatically.
Try installing blackout curtains to block light emitted by street lamps, television sets, computers, and other electronic devices. Dark rooms protect us from bright lights and allow melatonin secretion to occur naturally. Melatonin regulates sleep patterns and induces relaxation. Exposure to bright light disrupts normal circadian rhythms, making it harder for the body to wind down and induce deep sleep.
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Heat dissipates quickly in the environment, but warm temperatures can encourage sweating. Keep windows closed during the hottest part of the day. Keep the temperature low during cold seasons. Sleep better at night by wearing clothing that feels comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement.
Sleeping pills may temporarily relieve insomnia symptoms. However, prolonged use of sleeping pills can result in dependence. Other side effects include nausea, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, weakness, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, impotence, urinary incontinence, flatulence, gas, and weight gain.
Drinking caffeinated beverages late at night can interfere with sleep. Coffee and tea contain caffeine, a stimulant that affects brain function. Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine stimulate the central nervous system, preventing the onset of sleep.
Eating a small snack several hours before bedtime can help ensure that you feel full enough to drift off. Snacks rich in carbohydrates and protein, such as crackers, cereal, toast, pudding, soup, yogurt, fruit, and milk can provide the energy needed to complete tasks and maintain alertness. Eating spicy foods before bedtime may also help induce sleep. Spicy foods produce acid reflux, and acid reflux produces gastric juices that mix with bile acids. Both substances contribute to indigestion, which can cause intestinal gas. Indigestion can wake you up, causing you to toss and turn.