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How to manage coughing at night?

Q: I am a 38 year old male, with no history of any major disease in myself or my family. Since the last two months, I am having a problem i.e I have severe coughing during night and am absolutely normal during daytime. The coughing lasts for 4 to 5 hours, making it extremely difficult for me to get a nights sleep. On the advice of my doctor, I have completed two courses of antibiotics but they have not helped. After that I am taking antihistamine tablets - cetrizine one a day due to which my night coughing has stopped. I have been taking these tablets since the last 10 days. However, if I do not take these tablets, the coughing problem starts that night. How long do I have to continue with these tablets and is the prolonged use of these tablets harmful? What is my actual problem and what is the permanant cure for this?

A:There are several causes of nocturnal (night) coughing: 1. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), or aspiation. Avoid large meals at night, prop up the head of the bed, take antacids. 2. Sinusitis with postnasal drip, which should improve with antihistamines. 3. Asthma, which may respond best to inhaled medicines. In all cases of night related breathing or coughing problems, it is important to consider the presence of allergies, e.g., animals, feathers, dust, mould in carpets or wall. Antihistamines can be taken indefinitely without fear of complications. A two or 3 month course is advisable to quieten down a troubling allergy, and if symptoms recur, longer treatment will be needed.

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