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

Answered by
Dr. Sagar Ramesh Makode
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 05, 2017 and last reviewed on: Feb 25, 2021

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.



Welcome to

  • The most probable explanation is nasal stuffiness and especially during sleep it makes one choked. While awake and mobile nasal stuffiness decreases and we tend to breathe through the mouth, which is not always during sleep. It can happen again if nasal stuffiness is not under control.
  • I guess you did not have this feeling whenever you were awake. If you are having these symptoms even during daytime, then the other possibilities are laryngitis or bronchitis.
  • I would advise hemogram with total leucocyte count and if needed a chest x-ray.
  • Do you these symptoms recurrent or do you have a history of recurrent nasal stuffiness? If yes, then we will also have to do allergic manifestation, which might be aggravated by infection.
  • Now, here you clearly have an infection. So, antibiotics need to hike up. Consult your doctor, discuss with him or her and take medicine with consent.
  • You have taken Amoxicillin for eight days without much response. So, I suggest tablet Azee 500 (Azithromycin) once a day to it for five days.
  • Also, steam inhalation and nasal drop like Xylometazoline before bedtime will help. Also, go with Betadine gargles.
  • You can get one TSH level (thyroid-stimulating hormone) just to know if the thyroid is under control, because uncontrolled thyroid may cause fluid retention and may increase nasal stuffiness.

For further information consult an internal medicine physician online -->

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?



Welcome back to

  • There is no need to worry. It happened due to infection leading nasal stuffiness.
  • You continue with steam until the time you have this cold and put nasal drop Xylometazoline one drop in each nostril before going to bed. It will prevent the episode from happening.
  • Whenever one lies down fluid from the legs enters the circulation and tend to accumulate in inflamed nasal mucosa leading to stuffiness. So, Xylometazoline will reduce the edema and prevent the episode.
  • Also, elevate your head end during sleeping. If you have not at all responded to Amoxicillin, then better switch to antibiotics like tablet Levofloxacin 500 mg once a day for five days.
  • If you think the common cold severity has gone down significantly, then you can continue Amoxicillin with the addition of Azee. Consult your doctor, discuss with him or her and take medicine with consent.

For further doubts consult an internal medicine physician online -->

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