How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Susan Ivy Your Own Question
Susan Ivy
Susan Ivy, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4058
Experience:  BSN, MSN, CNS
Type Your Health Question Here...
Susan Ivy is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

why i can not breath at night when i lay down to sleep

Resolved Question:

i am a exsmoker i have trouble breathing i get a dry feeling in my throat then i start coughing until vomit up clear fleam. i went to the doctor and got a chest x-ray that came out normal, i am on advair and methyiprednisolone and an inhaler. i get dry tingling feeling in my throat and my breathing gets cut off, and while i am fighting for air i am couging at the same time and my eyes start to water then i start to gag all of this is going on whale i am trying to breath i feel like i am a fish out of water! i feel like i am going to die. it starts in my throat especially when i lay do to sleep! i am only 36 years old and i have 5 small children.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Susan Ivy replied 7 years ago.



Thank you for writing to JustAnswer with your question.


Have you looked into the possiblity that you have gastic reflux? The reason why, is that it can actually cause increased coughing and mucus problems. Additionally it usually is worse when the effected individual lays down -- this is because there is something wrong with the esophageal spincter - the valve that normally shuts offf the stomach from the esophagus. So, when the individual lays down, the gastric juices get into the esophagus. These juices are extremely irritating - they are meant to digest food - and if they flow up into the esophagus are extrememly irritating to the lining, and also may go all the way up to the pharynx - where the trachea flap is (closing off the trachea or "wind pipe" when you eat or swallow) - irritating this area too and causing coughing and other problems such as increased salivation.


One treatment to help prevent this is to get a foam wedge to place between your mattresses to elevate the head of your bed. You may need to prop yourself up on pillows, or if you have a hospital bed or other bed where you can roll the head of the bed up it should help you tremendously. Another method to prevent the reflux when you lie down is to sleep or lay on your left side -- this helps to keep the gastric juices in your stomach as your stomach opening cannot empy into the esophagus easily if you lay on your left side (the stomach is located on the left side with the opening /valve to the esophagus near the middle of the upper abdomen.)


There are many other treatments for this as well, depending on the specifics of your particular case. Medications to decrease acidity may help; in some individuals where weight is an issue in cause the spincter to close incompletely, weight loss is needed; sometimes decreasing the amount ate at each meal and increaseing the meals to 5 per day can help by preventing over-flow out of the stomach. Sometimes certain foods that are less gaseous or spicy may help in some cases.


So, my recommendation is to see your doctor for evaluation of GER (gasto-esophageal reflux). If your doctor agrees he/she may treat you or send you to a GI specialist for investigative testing and treatment. Until that time sleep or nap with the head of the bed up, and you can also try laying on the left side.


I hope this helps. If you have questions or comments please reply.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

it dose not olny happens when i sleep it happens when i am work also i work in retail with custermers i have to leave them go to the restroom or any private area and have this attack i cough sooo hard until i pee on myself i have to were depends to work so that i do not mess my cloths up. i lost my voice from the couging and gaging i am not over weight i feel like one of these attack is going to kill me!!!!!

Expert:  Susan Ivy replied 7 years ago.

I'm sorry, I sort of mentioned but didn't really, that the coughing can be increased because of the irritation that has occured from the digestive fluids - the can get all the way up into the opening of the trachea. From you history I'm sure this is not the only reason you are coughing, but may very well be a factor in it. Your doctor could probably tell by looking into your upper airway and esophageal area.


You of course can ask for a cough suppresent medication, they can be given once the reason for the coughing is discovered and that is treated. I'm just giving you a possibility that sounds likely for you. The only way this can be verified is through physical examination. But if the doctor is reminded of this cause, it could be looked into, and if in fact is a problem, then you could be treated and hopefully the problem will resolve. If no reason could be found for the coughing, then cough suppresents may be an option for you.

Susan Ivy and 3 other Health Specialists are ready to help you