HomeAnswersInternal Medicinebreathing problemsI have breathing difficulty with cold while lying down. Please help.

Why is it difficult for me to breathe when I lay down while having cold?

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Why is it difficult for me to breathe when I lay down while having cold?

The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At January 5, 2017
Reviewed AtAugust 18, 2023

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

I do not know what happened, but I stopped being able to breathe the last night. It was terrifying. My nose was stuffed up and I have been trying to get over the cold for almost 16 days now. I was laying on my back and had a dream (it was not scary at all). During the dream, I realized that I was not breathing. When I woke up, I really was not breathing and I had to swallow like 10 times just to get the feeling to go away and breathe again. I think it honestly was from the post-nasal drip down my throat and my mouth being so dry. Could it have caused a laryngospasm? What could have caused this? Should I be nervous? Could it happen again? I am on regular Synthyroid (hypo) and have been taking Amoxicillin for the past eight days to get rid of this cold. My throat is still a little sore and I have been coughing on and off. It feels as if there is something stuck in my throat. Please help.

Hi,

Welcome to icliniq.com. The primary likely cause appears to be nasal congestion, particularly more pronounced during sleep, which can lead to a sensation of feeling choked. This congestion often eases when awake and mobile, causing a shift to mouth breathing, which is not as prevalent during sleep. This issue may recur if nasal congestion remains unaddressed. If these symptoms aren't present during daytime, other possibilities such as laryngitis or bronchitis could be considered. A hemogram with total leucocyte count and, if necessary, a chest x-ray are advisable. If you have a history of recurrent nasal congestion, allergic factors should be explored, potentially exacerbated by the current infection. Given the evident infection, escalating antibiotic treatment is warranted; consultation with your doctor is recommended to discuss and obtain medication with consent. Since the response to Amoxicillin over eight days has been limited, I suggest a five-day course of Azee 500 (Azithromycin) tablet once daily. Utilizing steam inhalation, bedtime nasal drops like Xylometazoline, and Betadine gargles can offer relief. Considering a TSH level test might be beneficial to assess thyroid control, as unregulated thyroid function could contribute to fluid retention and heightened nasal congestion.

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

I only get this problem when I have a cold. I do not usually have nasal stuffiness and it is more so at night. Right now, I am breathing through my nose, but at night laying down makes me have to breathe through my mouth. I did purchase a vaporizer to add moisture to the air in my bedroom. Should I be scared this could happen again? Or should I prop myself up while sleeping to feel fine?

Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com. Rest assured, there's no need for undue concern, as your current situation likely stems from an infection causing nasal congestion. As part of managing this, continue with steam inhalation until your cold subsides, and incorporate Xylometazoline nasal drops with one drop in each nostril before bedtime to preempt any further episodes. This strategy proves particularly effective due to the phenomenon where, during reclining, fluid from the legs can accumulate in inflamed nasal mucosa, intensifying the sensation of stuffiness. Xylometazoline serves to counteract this process by reducing edema. Alongside this, consider elevating the head of your sleeping position. In cases where your response to Amoxicillin hasn't yielded the desired outcome, it might be prudent to switch to an alternative antibiotic such as Levofloxacin 500 mg tablet, taken once daily for five days. Alternatively, if you observe a significant reduction in the severity of your common cold symptoms, you can opt to continue Amoxicillin alongside Azee. Prior to any modifications in your medication regimen, I recommend consulting your doctor to have a comprehensive discussion, gaining their insights, and securing their consent for the proposed treatment approach.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Sagar Ramesh Makode
Dr. Sagar Ramesh Makode

Cardiology

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