Can Sleep Apnea Cause You to Cough?

Yes, sleep apnea can sometimes cause a person to cough, although it’s not a typical symptom directly associated with sleep apnea itself. However, certain factors related to sleep apnea can contribute to coughing episodes during sleep or upon waking up.

Sleep apnea involves repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep, which can lead to a drop in oxygen levels in the body. These interruptions can trigger the body’s natural response to increase efforts to breathe, resulting in a sudden gasping or choking sensation. Sometimes, this reflex action can lead to coughing as the body attempts to clear the airway or as a response to the sudden change in breathing patterns.

In addition to this, other factors associated with sleep apnea, such as acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD), can contribute to coughing during sleep. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation, which may lead to coughing, especially when lying down.

It’s important to note that while coughing can occur in some individuals with sleep apnea, not everyone with sleep apnea experiences this symptom. If coughing during sleep becomes frequent or bothersome, it’s advisable to discuss this with a healthcare professional. They can assess the situation, evaluate for potential contributing factors, and recommend appropriate management or treatment options, which might involve addressing sleep apnea or other underlying conditions that could be causing the coughing episodes.