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Night-time coughing and broken sleep

(19 Posts)
fairy Fri 17-May-02 23:45:13

I have searched on previous threads, and I couldn't seem to find the right sort of thing, so here goes!

3 and a half ds has a night-time coughing problem, it is normally triggered by him having a cold, but then continues on well after the cold has disappeared. He starts to cough about 2 hours after he has gone to bed and then it just goes on and on, sometimes for 2 to 3 hours without a break.

Tonight he topped all previous record attempts as he was sick all over me and himself, and he had been drinking strawberry milkshake all afternoon!!!!!!!!

So this is my question I think! Is the cough psychological or is it a medical problem? We did go to the doctors today and he was given the all clear, so I have a real problem with it.
He is not prepared to help himself by taking a drink and just gets angry when you try to help him. I really don't know what to try with him next, can any one help?

And btw he gets very hot at night, and he currently has the window open, fan on and just wearing shorts.

batey Sat 18-May-02 08:24:25

If it were me I'd give homeopathy a go, you've got nothing to loose as if it dosn't work it wont harm him. IME its been really good for things like this. My eldest dd was/is v. internaly hot and certain remedies really helped with this (and her excema). Good Luck.

lou33 Sat 18-May-02 10:47:40

If he carries on like this I would go back and ask you gp to check for signs of asthma. Get him/her to give a peak flow test to check his lung capacity (takes about a minute and doesnt hurt). A night time cough can often be the only symptom of childhood asthma. My 10 year old has just been rediagnosed with asthma after 5 years of being clear, and had the most dreadful nighttime cough for months. On examination by the asthma nurse her lung capacity was about a third below what it should have been. Salbutamol doesn't always work in children, and didn't improve her, so she is on Flixotide, which has worked miracles! Undisturbed sleeps and no grumpy dd in the mornings, too tired to go to school! I hope you get this sorted.

salalex Sat 18-May-02 11:08:10

Thanks for this info. My daughter - 4 yo - has been hacking away for quite a few weeks now at night and the doc gave her the all clear. If it carries on I'll take your advive lou33.
Would less milky stuff help at all fairy? It can make them a bit phlegmy I think.

lou33 Sat 18-May-02 12:34:26

I should just add that Flixotide is not suitable for younger children, but there are other alternatives. I have a 10 year old on Flixotide, a 5 year old on Salbutamol and a 1 year old on Atrovent (3 out of four kids !), so there should be something suitable for asthmatics of all ages.

Another point to remember is that doctors are very loathe to diagnose atshma in younger children (usually under twos) even if the symptoms are obvious, not sure why but it seems to be the case. It might mean you having to persist in going back a few times to convince them. Good luck anyway.

SueDonim Sat 18-May-02 12:37:10

A night-time cough is definitely a pointer towards asthma. He needs to be checked out and have treatment for it, if that is the case. Look at the Asthma Campaign site and it may give you more information.

fairy Sat 18-May-02 20:46:05

He doesn't normally have that much milk in one day, it wasn't even until he was sick I realised quite how much he had drunk!

I will look into the asthma thing, he doesn't have the cough all year round, just after he has had a cold or ear infection.

I have to say he has actually got a tummy bug today, and has been sick quite a few times, and has been drinking only water, so maybe the sick last night was just part of that rather than caused by the couging by I guess I'll never know.

SofiaAmes Sat 18-May-02 22:01:28

Fairy, my son (18 mo.) gets the same thing. After a cold he will have a bad nightime (only) cough for a week or two and noisy breathing during the day. I consulted my paediatrician in los angeles and she said that it was probably not asthma, but just excess phlegm left from the cold. She said that the noisy breathing came from his throat not his lungs which indicated mucus rather than asthma. I have asthma myself so I know what it sounds like and it's true that his noisy breathing didn't sound wheezy like my asthma. Anyway, I find that Tixylix (sp?) which is a decongestant (thus clearing out the excess mucus) helps quite a bit. And sometimes I give him a cough suppressant as well.

SueDonim Sat 18-May-02 22:28:13

In the UK the definition of asthma has widened to include persistant night-time cough and also that a person can be diagnosed as asthmatic without the presence of wheezing.

All of my four children are/have been asthmatic and the condition is characterised by a worsening of symptoms during and after colds and coughs, whether that be full blown attacks, persistant night-time cough or exercise-induced wheeze. HTH

janh Sat 18-May-02 22:44:21

Fairy, when my kids have had persistent coughs after colds I resort to giving them cough suppressants - according to the labels they are only for "ticklish, irritating" coughs and not for "productive" ones but if what is produced is vomit I always think it's worth a go! (I define an "irritating" cough as one which drives me round the bend.)

If your son only coughs at night, and not with exercise as well, it's less likely to be asthma, but worth insisting your GP checks him out for it anyway. One of mine was prescribed Ventolin (?) syrup at around 2½ and went on to lots of inhalers up to the age of 15-16, with regular visits to asthma clinic. Her peak flow reading is colossal now (she plays the flute, great therapy for children with chest problems) but she still gets a night-time cough after a cold and occasionally needs her inhalers.

Good luck!

lou33 Sun 19-May-02 13:43:46

Just have to add my agreement with SueDonim here, and to add the point that a cough suppressant does only that, hides the cough not cures it. Doctors I have dealt with over the years seem to think the same thing, and don't see much point in giving something that doesn't really do any good.

janh Sun 19-May-02 16:04:35

lou33, I know a suppressant isn't a cure for the cough, but it is a cure for the disturbed nights and the vomiting triggered by the cough, which is good enough for me.

lou33 Sun 19-May-02 17:26:23

When my daughter had whooping cough from August until January she used to cough so hard she vomited nightly and couldn't breathe. Every possible way of preventing this was tried without success. She missed months of school through this, so I do sympathise Janh ,I was not criticising, merely pasing a comment.

The only thing that worked in the end was being given breathing exercises to do by a physiotherapist, which had to be practised when she was actually coughing. Despite my reservations it actually worked within a matter of days.

She was finally able to return to school in January 99 (after contracting it in the August), but has since been prone to chest infections, and has now been rediagnosed with asthma again after a break of 5 years - after having weeks of disturbed sleep again making her too tired to go to school.

Cough suppressants will sometimes work coughs, but in the long term they will stop working because the body will just get used to them. I would have thought it better to persevere and try to find the source of the cough , rather than hiding it.

Art Sun 19-May-02 18:35:36

I have just been told by the nursery teacher, that cutting up an onion and putting it in the bedroom at night eases cold symptoms. Although v.smelly it does seem to help!

fairy Sun 19-May-02 21:23:35

In the winter he had this problem cough constantly as he rolled from one ear infection to infected tonsils.

We found through another thread on Mumsnet about a Vicks Steam Vaporiser which worked really well, adding the moisture to the air really helped and it cleared up the cough after a couple of nights each time. But unfortunately its just too hot at the moment to use it.

I guess my question was also that do young children get into a cycle of coughing and it being more psychological than medical. Does anyone else feel like this?

lou33 Mon 20-May-02 10:56:00

Fairy, you could just try putting a bowl of water on the radiator in his room to see if that works? It could be just the air is too dry.

bundle Mon 20-May-02 12:30:41

Fairy, I agree with Lou, it could be the dry air, but I find that a wrung-out towel on a radiator is a bit easier than a bowl..I also put a few drops of Olbas oil in the water if dd is bunged up too.

bossykate Mon 20-May-02 12:54:53

we found a humidifier very helpful when ds was plagued with coughs and colds during the winter following his start at nursery. central heating makes the air very dry which can exacerbate a cough - not sure if this is your problem given what you say about the open window, fan etc. if you do decide to go this route, be careful, over enthusiastic use led to mould spots in our case!

bossykate Mon 20-May-02 12:55:46

in the room not on ds - haha!

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