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Advice about Coughing

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2013 - 2014 Discussions


I cough all winter

Jan 2013

For the past few winters, I have had the same problem: I cough ALL WINTER LONG. I start out with a cold (sinus) in Sept/Oct and the coughing starts. I don't have congestion in my chest (I've seen a doctor), it just seems to come from the irritation in my throat from non-stop post-nasal drip. Once my cold gets better and I don't really feel ''sick'' anymore, I still have the mucus in the back of my throat every day and that leads to the coughing (and annoying throat-clearing..ahem). It's very difficult for me to exercise as that really starts the coughing up quite a bit. Unfortunately, it's worse at night and keeps everyone in the house awake. I sleep every night propped up on pillows, as that seems to lessen the ''drip'', but that leads to neck and back pain. Sometimes the coughing fits get out of control and it causes me to vomit. Two or three winters ago, I started taking Zyrtec and that seemed to clear up the problem (I do have mild year-round allergies that I previously did not medicate, but it seemed worth it to stop the coughing). Now, it is no longer helping enough. I have prescription codeine cough syrup, and that helps, but I just can't stand the idea of taking codeine every night for months at a time (not healthy and it gives me a headache). I have tried sinus-rinsing and drink lots of warm liquids and that helps temporarily, but the mucus comes back an hour or so later. Cough-drops do help a bit, but I feel like I'm rotting my teeth having them sit in my mouth all night every night. Any suggestions on how I can just curb the excessive flow of mucus?! Elizabeth


I'm sorry your doctor hasn't been more helpful. Two soothing strategies: 1 - a good humidifier on all night makes a big difference. 2 - instead of cough drops, suck or chew on whole cloves. Clove oil has the same numbing effect as menthol. It can really help with coughing at night. hope it helps
It's time to go back to a doctor and, if s/he doesn't suggest it, ask for a referral to an allergist. I am not a doctor, but to me this sounds like it could be allergies. (All 4 of us have them in my family.) Some things I have learned over the years about allergies:

(1) If nasal secretions are the only symptom (in your case leading to coughing) without fever, aching, difficulty breathing, etc., allergies are a likely candidate. Another thing that makes me think so is your history with Zyrtec. Zyrtec is a diagnostic medicine, meaning that if it helps, you have allergies. It is not like Benadryl or Sudafed where they will reduce the symptoms no matter what the underlying cause.

(2) Allergies change over the years - they are not a static characteristic of a person. I never had them as a child (in the desert southwest) but developed them after several years of living in a humid southern city as an adult. My son had severe allergies as a toddler that are becoming more manageable with time. So if you have had mild allergies in the past, it seems a viable hypothesis that you have worse allergies now, and/or a new allergy to a new substance. Time for a re-testing.

(3) There are lots of treatment options out there, not all of them OTC. For example, you may be a candidate for a daily nasal spray that works to prevent reactions to the allergens. I take one and it is a lifesaver - I now take Zyrtec only occasionally as a supplement. So just because Zyrtec isn't enough for you any more doesn't mean you should give up on the path of allergy meds. And of course, if allergies do turn out to be the culprit, your doctor will also be able to suggest additional non-drug strategies for reducing your exposure to allergens.

Good luck and feel better! Allergic mom


I had similar problems and would advise two things - one, buy a humidifier and use it when you sleep. I have the Crane Teardrop one and it works great. The second is to look into getting flonase. I had post-nasal drip like yours that was causing throat irritations that led me to lose my voice at the slightest hint of a cold. My doctor put me on flonase and I've been much better since. Good luck! No longer coughing constantly
I suffer the winter coughing season as well. Same story. Get a cold, cough until Spring. Sometimes the coughing spells made me alarmingly light-headed. At one point, it was so bad at one point I was sipping cough syrup during my commute to make sure I didn't suddenly pass out and cause an accident. Codeine syrup helped at night, but I didn't want to risk becoming dependent on it for relief.

The latest doctors visits concluded that asthma medication would help (inhalers), but frankly using them alone didn't make any difference. The cold weather and winter allergies apparently keep my bronchial tubes from being able to recover. Irritated airways causes coughing, which further irritates my airways, which causes cou.. sigh. The solution seems to be a balancing act.. taking enough medicine to reduce the mucus and clear my wheezing so that the coughing doesn't further aggravate my poor airways. Too dry means painfully squeaky coughing and dizziness. Too wet means clearing your throat and nasty sounding congested coughing. And lots of Kleenex. I'm a living science experiment.

So Zyrtec + inhalers + continually sipping hot water (adding honey helps) + cough drops are my current home remedy. That, and keeping my chest warm and bundled. The combined regimen seems be gradually helping my oxygen intake. At least I can sleep now without keeping the entire household awake. Best of luck. Quite an ab workout


Hi Elizabeth, It sounds like allergies to me. Since it's only winter, I wonder if you have some kind of mold in your heating system. Does it get better if you go away and sleep somewhere else? You might have a dust mite allergy and since the house is more closed up in the winter it affects you more. You could have your heating system cleaned and see if that makes a difference. Also you could put dust mite covers on your mattress and pillows.
You said that you drink lots of warm liquids and it provides temporary help. My advice is to just keep it up all day from morning to night. Drink until you're going to the bathroom frequently. It helped me with exactly your symptoms, and I used to get bronchitis every winter, no longer do. -Good luck!
For the nighttime coughing, try slowly sucking a spoonful of honey before bed. Honey helps coughing. For the persistent cough that will not go away, a few winters ago my doc prescribed an inhaler for me that helped open my lungs just a little and, wow, what a difference. So another winter I asked for the same -- so now I've been given booth a fast-acting, and slow-acting ''asthma'' inhaler which after just a few uses, got me over the cough. You might ask your doc about that path. no longer coughing
I have lots of respiratory allergies and was diagnosed in my thirties as having asthma as well. I used to have some of the same problems as you--and definitely the moment I lay down, I'd start to cough. I seem to recall this was a year-round problem. I used to keep keep Chloraseptic spray by my bedside and use that when the coughing started. It helped but was not a real solution.

However, these problems all stopped when I got on Flonase for my respiratory allergies (my nose was so chronically swollen inside that I had long since stopped being able to breathe through it) and Pulmicort for my asthma. Both of these are essentially topical steroids--one for the nose, one for the lungs. Now my colds are much milder, I never get bronchitis afterwards, I don't cough when I lie down, I can fully breathe, and I don't have asthma attacks. Really life-changing results. I don't even need to buy tissues anymore; my chronic year-round runny nose is over.

I suggest you see an allergist if your regular MD can't figure this stuff out. At a minimum, maybe you need a different allergy medicine. Or maybe during the winter you need to be on a nasal steroid. Good luck, and keep researching till you get a solution! breathing great for years now


Hi, If Zyrtec used to work, try switching to another allergy pill. Claritin or Allegra. It's normal to have to switch brands every year or two, they tend to wear off.

Get allergy covers for your pillows & start washing your bedding in hot water to reduce dust mites.

HEPA air filter for your bedroom Check your heater's air filter (you can switch it to a HEPA one too). It could be that you're using the heater more & it's pushing allergens.

All those things reduced my congestion a ton! Changed my life. Ex-morning sneezer


One word for you... Flonase. If you are doing nasal irrigation on a regular basis and that still isn't working than get an Rx for Flonase. I use it regularly all winter, though not necessairily every day. I even use it once a week on my son before he swims because he gets post nasal drip when exercising. Works like a charm. sympathetic
This sounds very much like asthma. You don't mention being diagnosed with it or taking any meds for it. It also sounds like it has the potential for mold allergies (which can lead to asthma symptoms). Winter is our big mold season, and you say that allergy medication helped, at least initially. Do you have symptoms only in your home, or everywhere at all times? Do you have symptoms when you travel to other states in the winter?

I would try asthma meds combined with allergy meds, but I would also do mold mitigation in your home - bathroom fan, dehumidifier, make sure the crawlspace is draining, clean mold off windows. Good luck! Allison


The fact that your cough was helped by Zyrtec says to me that it is caused by allergies. You say that it is not enough anymore, which just means that 1) your reaction has increased over time and need a stronger anti-histamine to suppress the response and (2) you need to see an allergist to find out what is triggering your cough so you can avoid that allergen and/or get stronger medication. The reason that none of the cough medicines are helping the is that they are just treating the symptoms, not the problem.

By the way, while most of us think of allergies as something that mainly occurs in Spring and Summer, you may be reacting to something else that is worse during the winter because we are indoors more -- dust mites (spending more time indoors), canned air/central heating, mold; plus reactions to dy leaves/particles in the air, or other plants that are active this time of year. Or even something else.

At any rate, you mention going to a doctor, but you need them to refer you to an allergy specialist who can get to the root of your problem. Good luck - I hope you find relief! Allergy sufferer


This tends to happen to me, too (only since I had kids). Sometimes I cough so hard I pee my pants. The best anti-cough drug I've found is Tessalon Perles (generic name Benzonatate). It just seems to stop the itchy-throat/coughing cycle, without any noticeable side effects, and it lasts eight hours!

I also use cough drops (though I worry that some night I'll inhale one and choke on it--I try to keep them in my cheek to make that less likely). I like the Ricola sugarfree (which avoids the tooth decay you were worried about).

I hope you can stop coughing! Coughy


I totally hear you. I am quite miserable for most of the winter months with the same issues, and it's the lack of sleep from the coughing that really gets me. Instead of cough drops (I agree, feels like I'm rotting my teeth out) try chewing sugarless gum. I find that just having something in my mouth that makes saliva makes my throat calm down. I actually keep a piece of gum in my mouth ALL NIGHT LONG without swallowing it, choking on it, or getting it stuck in my hair. Now that I write that, I'm nervous that one of those things will happen to you if you try this...but anyway, it works for me! Consolation prize: with all of the coughing, I swear I have 6-pack abs. Good luck. Hacker
I'm with you, and here's what I've learned. Supposedly, it could be allergies. I have noticed it helps to have really good dust-mite covers on my pillows, but it's not the save-all. (I also have dust covers on my bed as well, fwiw). I have also tried a bed wedge, as I've also been told that the problem of post-nasal drip is that you need to elevate-as you've done with your pillows. The bed wedge is not particularly comfortable, I've found, and may or may not help. I just have extra pillows. I may not have the same intensity of coughing as you--I have Rx cough syrup w/ codeine but I don't take it much. And I strongly recommend AGAINST sucking regular cough drops all night. I did do that, and two root-canals and other problems later, I wouldn't do it again. There are, however, sugar-free cough drops-only in mint flavor, for some reason--and I've found that I can sometimes suck on one for even a short time just to get to sleep. Like you, it's just throat irritation and drip, which can wake me out of a dead sleep into a coughing fit. Other things I try, w/ varying degrees of success: benedryl before I sleep, flexeril (muscle relaxant-it's really for back spasms, but also seems to work for putting me to sleep and relaxing enough to not cough all night. But I wouldn't do that in combo w/ codeine cough syryp. Warm salt water gargles before bed, just to soothe the throat. And sometimes a run of prilosec, as GERD can also cause coughing problems. I actually also did the tube-down-the-throat probe with the GI doc (which can be done at the same time as your colonoscopy, to make it efficient and cheaper)--you do this once in a lifetime to make sure you don't have precancerous conditions in your esophagus. I had pretty bad inflamation, though not precancerous, and went on a course of nexium, which helped a LOT for a few months. For a while I used a nasal steroid (flonase or veramyst), which seemed to help for a while, but then... not so much. So I stopped it. I've also had varying success with albuterol. Bottom line, I think, is that the docs don't have a good handle on it, and they'll blame it on whatever their first best guess is. Best of luck to you. janet
Eucalyptus oil has worked well for my children and I. I mix a few drops with olive oil and rub it on the back, chest and throat.
To stop the coughing fits, breathe through your nose when you cough! You will look a little weird but it always worked for me. For years I also had coughing fits all winter long. Nose breathing seems to stop the spasms since the breathing is slower and more controlled. Now when my loved ones start coughing I say ''nose breathe, nose breathe!'' and it tends to work for them too! For the mucus drip you might also consider acupuncture. Chinese medicine has many remedies dealing with mucus. Amy
I can totally relate. Post nasal drip irritates the back of your throat and your body reacts with terrible coughing fits. I would get flush and sweaty and could not stop coughing. Night time was a nightmare. the answer: i finally went to yet another ENT and brought up the possibly of having my TONSILS out. I have had sore throats and tonsil infections all my life but never so many in one year as to red flag having them out. But I realized that the post nasal drip was only a part of the problem. The other part was how my throat was reacting to the post nasal drip. 4 yrs ago had my tonsils out ( i was 34). Have never had one of those crazy coughing fits since. Have coughed here and there but never a fit. Never kept me up at night. Still get post nasal drip but it is TOTALLY different. Best decision for me. Tonsils OUT
Simmer 6 whole cloves, a cinnamon stick and some fresh sliced ginger in 2 cups of water for 20 min. Sweeten to taste with honey and sip before bedtime. Also prop your pillows up so you're sleeping sitting up a little, and run a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom all night long. Good luck! 'tis the season...
Try cleaning up the air you breathe. Fragrances can be irritating to the airways. Get rid of perfume, air fresheners, scented personal care products, scented detergents, smelly cleaning products like bleach, ammonia, pine sol, etc. Open the windows for at least a part of each day. Hope this helps. Anon
Ugh. It's an annoying problem isn't it. Flonase up the nose is the answer. A shot in the morning and evening. Takes a little while to kick in. I do get this less now that I am not in the Bay Area. (knock on wood) But perhaps you're not ready to move. stop the dripping

2010 - 2012 Discussions


5 year old's cough, variant asthma, nothing working

Sept 2011

Our 5 year old was in the hospital for 5 days earlier this year and has had trips to the ER for what doctors think is cough variant asthma. This is NOT the type of asthma controled by abuterol, and it is life threatening for him. The issue is that it is not under control: we have to resort to prednisone (liquid steroid) to keep him from the hospital once a month. It is a miracle drug that keeps him breathing but has very bad side effects. I could take this whole email to say how prednisone changes my son: he doesn't sleep, has tantrums, yells at us, etc. and how it impacts growth. His illness always follows same pattern: cold with runny nose for a few days, small cough, then wakes up at 2am with cough so bad it won't stop, he can't breathe well and abuterol makes no difference. IMagine how often kids (esp. in kindergarten) get sick with colds. I would love to talk to someone about this and/or get advice. Here is what we have tried: working with (Kaiser) pediatric pulmonologist, second opinion from an allergist (tested negative for all allergies), homeopathy, acupuncture/acutonics. He is on nasal steriod spray, singular, regular/non-stop doses of pulmicort (steriod maintenance inhaler), abuterol. We use a nebulizer. We take vitamins, probiotics, homeopathic remedies in addition. Nothing stops the train once he catches what appears to be a minor cold. We have talked about a bronchioscope and cat scan. We are going to try starting the abuterol at first sign of runny nose and doing something called combivent. Has anyone had unresolved asthma that required way too much prednisone to control? Please let me know your stories and hopefully successes.


I had this when I lived in Los Angeles, and the pulmonologist was the most important resource. I did get some relief from Advair, but I would always eventually get sick and end up on oral prednisone. The pulmonologist warned me that ''some people are just allergic to the plant life in Los Angeles,'' and that influenced my decision to move to the Bay Area. Where in Rockridge where the air quality is not great I have almost zero asthma. So I wonder if your son has been to an allergist, home tested for mold, etc. After three years cycling on and off prednisone I do have early cataract -- the eye dr. Had mostly seen it in athletes who had abused steroids. So add UCB eye clinic to your list of appointments. Good luck and I hope that your son's issues will lessen as mine have. Sarah
Well, seems like you have tried a lot of things, but you have not tried to clean up indoor air pollution. I suggest you get rid of all perfume, air fresheners, bleach, ammonia, etc. Not just stop using it, but get that stuff out of the house. Also, any new carpet in the house? The formaldehyde in that is toxic. An air cleaner at night might help. I like the 160R2: http://www.foustco.com/airpurifiers.html. Also, make sure that his school has clean air rules: no perfume or air fresheners. It may seem like it is the cold that is causing the problem, but the airway irritation from toxic air may be the real culprit. anon
You've probably already addressed this but you might want to try and get your kid to a pediatric ENT. My kid went the full asthma route but it was only once the pediatric ENT looked in his ears and found huge adenoids (and surgically removed them and put in tubes for the fluid that had backed up because of the adenoids) that the asthma like symptoms went away. He got colds prior to this all the time that caused us to go down the road of asthma reactions and they had the source of the problem wrong. Just a thought for you. Specialists aren't always right. got rid of those stinking adenoids

Toddler's lingering daytime cough

May 2011

My 3.5-year-old has a lingering daytime cough that wouldn't go away. His last cold was 2 months ago but the cough is still there. It's a frequent dry cough, like a smoker's cough, throughout the day, regardless of whether he is running around or just sitting on the cough. Sometimes the cough sounds almost like a sneeze, but it's really a cough. He does not cough at night. He doesn't sneeze. The eyes are fine - not watery or dry/itchy. His nose is not runny and doesn't appear to be stuffy - although, when I asked what makes him cough, he said ''bugs in my nose''... ''what bugs?'' - ''germs, Mama. there are germs in my nose''. But you know what it's like trying to get answers from a 3-year-old... We've seen our pediatrician who said it doesn't seem like a classic case of asthma, since there's no nighttime cough (no wheezing either). We've had a chest x-ray (clear) and the doc didn't find anything wrong with the stethoscope. He guessed allergies and we tried children's Claritin for several days, by now I've concluded it doesn't make a difference. The doctor's next step is to try Benadril, and if that doesn't help either, proceed with steroid inhalers because it still might be asthma, just atypical. I am not satisfied with this course of action, it seems like we don't have a diagnosis, just random tries of different medicines. Has anyone here seen a case of persistent light daytime cough in a child, and how did you go about diagnosing and treating it? Don't worry, I am not the type to try remedies by myself just because it worked for the next-door neighbor... just looking for ideas that I would then run by our pediatrician. I've already read the BPN page on coughs but nothing seemed similar to our case. Hoping for feedback! D


My daughter had a daytime cough when she was in pre school. she dutifully included the ''elephant trunk'' or ''dracula cape'' arm motion to cover up. So her whole body was involved. I did talk about it with our doctor. Seemed to be no physical reason, so no asthma. Thought it might be a physical tick. It went away. And no diagnosis of Terrets. So perhaps it is just like some folks who clear their throats all the time. Just a habit. Cross your fingers, don't make a big deal of it infront of the child and hope it goes away (of course while still slyly keeping an eye out for anything serious) Anonymous
Sounds like it may be allergies or just a sensitive nose. The problem with Claritin is that it doesn't work for everyone. My son also goes through bouts of coughs that come and go because of post nasal drip. What I have found invaluable for myself and for him, he's 3 yrs by the way, is a simple saline spray. It's not medicated and it will rinse out any allergens and dry out any mucus that's making him cough. The best one I've found that's the gentlest on their little noses is ''Simply Saline Baby''. They are the little blue canisters, not the red ones for adults. The mist is gentle but high enough pressure to get through. You can find them at a large Target store or some babies R us carry them. Because it's not medicated you can use them multiple times a day. Try it out for a few days and see if it makes a difference. I bet it will. Stella
Sounds to me like he had whooping cough a while back. My daughter got it and it took about 3 months for the cough to finally resolve even though she was treated with antibiotics right away. i know about scary coughs
I have seen two cases of such a cough. One turned out to be slow progressing pertusis (whooping cough), for which there is currently an epidemic. The second one turned out to be environmental allergies. The first was cured with antibiotics. The second with creating an allergy free environment (cleaning carpets, changing linens weekly, air filters in use when not at home, removing pets, looking for mold, eliminating dairy and etc.)....and running a humidifier before bedtime (or during if child tolerates it). Sometimes dryness is vicious cycle with allergies and the humidityl creates moisture in cells and breaks cycle. A good gern free (UVlight and distilled water)humidifier works wonders in dry climates. Hope this is helpful. experienced in coughs/allergies
My daughter (then 3) had the same issue last spring. She had a cold at the end of winter, and the cough just never went away for months and months. It sounded exactly as you describe it. The diagnosis was cough variant asthma, but the pediatrician wasn't too concerned - her suggestion was that once the weather dries up and we start spending more time in the warm sun it will most likely clear up, especially since we already had a summer vacation planned - the idea was that spending time at the beach will help. It seemed impossible at the time, but it did happen. It took a few more months, but once we went to spend 2 weeks at the seaside, and spent the days in the hot, dry air, it went away. Completely. I hope this helps you. Never underestimate the power of the sun
Hi there, This sounds very similar to what happened to my sisters son and it's worth asking your doctor about it. Her son had a persistent dry cough for months. Their doctor tried allergy meds, asthma inhalers etc. before finally telling my sister that her son's cough was just a nervous habit (he's a very happy relaxed kid).

Thank goodness my sister decided to see a specialist. They did have to knock him out and put a camera down his throat and into his lungs. They discovered that he had acid reflux pretty badly and it was getting into his lungs causing the cough. He had an infection in his lungs because of it and the doctor told her that had they waited longer the acid could have caused some permanent damage. Sometimes a cough from a cold can linger but it's better to follow your gut. S.


I really feel for you with the trial-and-error medicine approach. I experienced that when one of my kids had a long-lasting rash. Very frustrating.

Anyway, my child has asthma, and she has had nighttime coughing and wheezing and the whole nine yards. However, it is my understanding that although nighttime worsening is common, it is not necessary for an asthma diagnosis, and I have heard of cough-variant asthma where the child never wheezes. Personally, I would skip the daytime Benadryl trial. It is way too much of a sedative for normal daytime use. Better to cough. I would explore the asthma hypothesis a bit more. Does he ever exhibit other signs of lacking oxygen like excessive sleepiness? Has the doctor taken a pulse-ox at the office and was it normal? Can he keep up with his peers in physical endeavors or does he tire more easily? Any difficulty concentrating (for a 3-yr-old, of course)? If there is only this dry cough with no other effects, I would think twice about the steroids, but that's me. My daughter is on them and has been for years on and off, but she really needs them. She has had life-threatening asthma episodes and has been hospitalized, and even aside from that, when poorly treated, her asthma impedes her ability to function normally. So the drugs are well worth it. But they are not without side effects and risks, and I'm not sure these would be worth taking if it were only a dry, intermittent daytime cough and nothing else. Depends, I suppose, on how distressing the cough is to him and to you.

I would also consider the possibility that it is some kind of temporary behavioral tic. My own had some of these at around three and some others in the preschool did as well -- weird little repetitive compulsions like blinking and nose-picking and face-rubbing and stuff like that. It just occurred to me it might be a possible explanation in this case, given the apparent lack of other symptoms and the cessation at night. If it is this, that's good news because they mostly just go away as the kids gets older. One other idea, for what it's worth: maybe if he's talking about his nose, you could try dabbing a little Aquaphor or even olive oil in his nostrils with a Q-tip (not deep!). Who knows, maybe it is related to a nasal dryness, but it also might be a way to do something harmless that could make him feel like action has been taken. In some situations, placebos really do work. Anyway, good luck. Anon


My advice is to do nothing and wait. My son had a persistent dry cough during the day when he was 3 yrs old. It lasted for over 3 months! We did the same tests that you described, including an Xray and also a very frightening asthma test at Children's Hospital, which was inconclusive. Annoyingly, the specialist wanted to put him on asthma inhalers anyways - but I refused. I was very upset that the doctors wanted to medicate my child based on one inconclusive test.

I know it is very difficult and frightening (and annoying) when your child coughs all day - mine coughed ALL DAY. But never at night or when he was fully engaged in an activity (!) There is a condition called Habitual Cough but it is usually in older kids that matched my son's situation.

I gave him lots of warm herbal tea with honey and other throat-coating foods. When I was there and he coughed I would distract him and that sometimes helped. The cough also disappeared when we went on vacation.

In hindsight, I think it was a combination of seasonal allergies, stress for being at a new preschool, reinforcement because he got lots of attention for coughing, and just an irritated, enflamed throat. And finally he stopped coughing. My suggestion is to wait - and don't medicate as long as he can sleep. And don't stress about it too much because he will feel your worry and that will make him cough more! good luck! glad that's over!


My son went through the SAME kinds of symptoms when he was 2 ish. He was allergic to cow dairy. As soon as we elininated cow dairy (and used goat's milk instead) the colds/coughs TOTALLY went away. As he got older he outgrew the allergy and now (he's 20 and away at college) he can handle dairy (in his opinion).

Your toddler could also be allergic to dust mites, in which case, there is a blood test for that and yiou can cover mattresses, pillows w/ dust mite allergy covers, get a few air cleaners for the house to keep the dust level down, and vacuum a little more often. Good luck goat milk familiy


14 month old's repetitive coughing

March 2011

His cough has come and gone for 3 months. He never completely healed. He previously had continous fever 2 and diagnosed as pheumonia. Recently he just keep coughing especially at night. The ped. just say they can do nothing unless they find an infection. But is there any way to relieve the symptom? worried mom


I had pneumonia as an adult, and when my cough persisted for two months, I was diagnosed with cough variant asthma and given an inhaler, which helps. I hear it's even more common in children, so I would definitely ask the pediatrician if this might explain your son's continued coughing. Good luck! coughing no longer
My son had a similar experience and was diagnosed with mild asthma after several months of coughing at night and during the day after exertion or laughing. He was 18 months old at the time. Perhaps you could ask your ped about possible asthma? We were prescribed an inhaler for him and it helped a lot. Good Luck
Yes, there is something you can do! Sounds to me like ''reactive airway.'' In my family, we are all about the lungs. All of my 3 kids have reactive airway (it's incredibly common.) They have all used the nebulizer with an albuterol medicine (Xopenex is one) and Pulmcort. The albuterol is the fast acting medicine and Pulmacort is the long term medicine. At a minimum, your doctor should prescribe those 2 medicines for the nebulizer. Take the albuterol for a few days (2x/day usually; more as needed to stem the tide) then you can phase it out and just use the pulmacort (2x/day) for a while. Starting when my son was 18 months, every winter it seemed we had to sit through the nebulizer treatments several times a day. All 3 of my kids had this and now that they are older, they can use a regular inhaler as needed. It's mostly a winter thing. Your child does not need to cough. The albuterol will open up the airways and make breathing MUCH easier. Sharon
It's not nice to have our little ones coughing for longer periods. When my kids are coughing or have snotty noses, I cut an onion in small peaces, mix it with about one tablespoon of sugar and put the mixture (usually in a small bowl) in their bedroom over night. Of course you have to deal with the smell, but we don't mind and in our case it helps. I usually put a new mixture in their bedroom as long as they are coughing. If that doesn't do the job, you could boil 2-3 potatoes (we use the yellow ones) with peel, mash it and smear the mash (about half inch thick) on a small linen, cover with another linen and but it on the kids chest for about half an hour. Wrap something (scarf or whatever) around their chest to keep the thing in place. You have to be careful not to burn your child, as the potato mash is hot! Put it on the back of your hand for a while first to test the temperature!!! The other thing that you could put on their chest is a linen with warm oil (eg high quality olive oil). Also, don't burn your child, but put it as warm as possible. Wrap something around as well and be aware of the fact, that the oil leaves stains, so use linen that you don't mind being stained!! Hope it works as well for you as it does for us! anon
Indoor air quality may be a problem. Do you use perfume? air fresheners? Scented laundry detergent? Fabric softener? Wood-burning fireplace? Those are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to airway problems, but there are many others. Not only are they bad for your baby, they are bad for everyone else, it is just not as obvious. http://www.everydayhealth.com/asthma/asthma-and-air-pollution-indoors.aspx I would suggest that you try to remove all sources of indoor air pollution. I suspect the cough will then improve. Even if it doesn't you have created a healthier environment for all of you. Anon
Nighttime coughing is often a symptom of asthma. Your ped did not mention this? anon
My children seem to have a lot of friends who were diagnosed with asthma whose only symptom was a cough. No wheezing. One of my close friend's son just ! got the diagnosis of cough-variant asthma, a few weeks ago. He had a persistent cough, esp. at night, after getting over a pneumonia.

Their pediatrician missed the diagnosis, but the asthmatologist knew what it was right away. We just travelled with the family, and the kid's cough is gone, and it was pretty pronounced and persistent a few weeks ago, when we dined at their house. He uses an inhaler after a chest cold, from now on. The doctor also told them to make sure that he wears a ski mask, covering his mouth, when he skis so that the air is warmed when it reaches his lungs. Anon


2007 - 2009 Discussions


4 year old's chronic cough

Sept 2009

I am looking for more ideas about what I can do about my son's chronic cough. Since he was born, he would get a very nasty cough when he got a cold - a pretty normal thing excepting that it sounds so horrible that people looked worried/shocked when they hear it. I'd bring him to the pediatrician and she'd say, ''this is normal, he lungs sound fine, etc.'' For the last 2 months, however, he has the cough without any cold associated with it. It popped up, out of the blue, and sort of comes and goes on a day to day basis. I've had him tested for allergies, autoimmune diseases, asthma, lung xrays. . . nothing of note was found! His allergist labeled his condition as reactive airway disease which seems very vague to me. I am just wondering if other people have children with this condition, how they manage it (because albuterol doesn't always help the cough), and whether anyone has an idea of what else could be causing this nasty cough. I'm tired of having people give me the evil eye when out with him in public! Not to mention, I worry about the guy. . . (other than the cough, he is super healthy, active, growing well)


I suggest saline nasal spray. Here's a link to info -- http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/guides/salinenasal.htm -- I think you'll have to copy & paste it.

And here's a medical study showing that spray helps alleviate cold-like nasal symptoms: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/apl/soto/2004/00000124/0000 0009/art00012?crawler=true Good luck! Sam


My son also developed a chronic cough as a baby that was particularly nasty sounding and worsened when he was sick with a cold or the flu. He was eventually diagnosed with ''spasmodic croup,'' basically a non-viral croup that frequently recurs without obvious triggers.

I say 'eventually' diagnosed because it took a long time and a lot of pushing just to get that far. I found that because his lungs always sounded clear (no wheezing like with asthma, all the inflammation is in the windpipe) many doctors didn't know what to make of it, or how to treat it. They'd just tell me to take him outside in the cold air, or to give him cough syrup. I feel like if it's not asthma many docs just kinda shrug their shoulders like ''it's no big deal''.

He went under the care of a pediatric pulmonologist and we worked out a preventative and crisis-management regime that helped (including medications like Flovent daily.)

However, while he does have spasmodic croup, it took another couple of years to get to the underlying explanation for his chronic coughing...gastroesophageal reflux. He had a bronchoscopy to determine whether there was an anatomical problem (e.g., narrow windpipe) exacerbating his croup and they found stomach contents in his lungs. He was placed on an acid-reducing medicine and we changed his diet. Today, he's like a different kid. He will still sometimes get a bad cough when sick, but we can manage it. Without the constant irritation of stomach acid in this larynx and lungs, the coughing (and throat-clearing) has stopped.

We have been lucky to have an outstanding pediatrician on our side that really listens and has pointed us toward specialists as needed. But our son (and my psyche) had to go through a lot before we got to the bottom of things. If your son is healthy otherwise, I'm not sure wanting people to stop staring is a good enough reason to head down the path. That being said, every time I hear one of those coughs come out of a kid, I think, ''I wonder if that parent really has any idea why they are coughing like that?''

Talk to your doctor, and be clear you are looking for root causes, not symptom treatment. If he doesn't have asthma but does have a chronic cough, I'd look into GER. You otherwise might never know it's there, but all the cough medicine it the world won't help that cough go away. Mother of an ex-cougher


With any chronic cough you might consider teaching him how to use the Buteyko breathing method. Overbreathing, in reaction to airway irritants, causes one's airway to constrict. At first there is a chronic cough; later asthma. It is important to learn how to NOT cough out too much CO2. You can teach your four year old to use this method. Also, make sure he is well hydrated. Ruth

My daughters' never-ending cough

April 2009

Hi, My two daughters, 5, and 19 mos, have had a bad cough for over a month and just cant seem to shake it. Gets bad at night time- hacking, resulting in spit-up/vomiting. Took them to doctor and said incline them, inhale eucalyptus and sage, lots of fluids- but nothing is working. Thank you, Distraught Parent


try albuterol for the cough. anon

6-year-old's lingering cough

Sept 2008

My six-year-old gets a typical number of colds per year. After a few days of regular symptoms, his cold becomes congestion and a rumbling/rattling/phlegmy cough that will last for the next two or three weeks. The poor guy is miserable during that time (as are we all, due to lack of sleep), and I'm embarrassed sending him to school because he sounds and looks so gross. We have seen both pediatricians and allergists and his lungs are completely normal and healthy -- it's just the way his colds go. I'm wondering, though, if anyone has any ideas for how to make the cough move along faster? I'm a little desperate because he just got finished with a summer cold and it has reminded me of how terrible this winter is sure to be. Lung Boy's Mom


My daughter had the same type of coughing episodes starting at about 2 years. Always starting with a cold, and the cough stays for weeks. Her twin brother would get the cold, be sick for 3-4 days and be fine. We too, were exhausted, and I really thought she would not be able to attend Kindergarten because it was so bad. She was miserable - sick from October thru February all the time. She looked terrible, too. pale skin and circles under her eyes. My daughter was first diagnosed with asthma, and given the usual asthma meds - inhalers, singulair, steroids when she got lung infections from aspirating the mucus she coughed. The asthma meds did not work for her, and did not stop the cough. We were told by her pulmonologist that the asthma meds are very effective and if they did not work for her, she probably did not have asthma. Finally we were referred to an allergy doc. He told us to try taking her off of dairy (she didn't have a lot of dairy, been drinking rice milk since weaning at 17 months) for 8 weeks to see what happened. It was hard to do, but we were at the end of our rope. we went off of all dairy - cheese, yogurt, everything. That was four years ago and guess what, worked like a charm. She is now eight years old, and is healthy as a horse, rosy- cheeked and beautiful. She is now allowed dairy in small amounts, but during cold season we are careful. She also always gets a flu shot. It's worth trying the ''no dairy''. There are a ton of dairy-free products, and really what do you have to lose? anon
Take your child off of cow dairy for a while. I'm willing to bet his cough will clear up. You can use goats milkl.Meyenberg brand is a good brand that doesn't smell/taste goaty. I don't recommend soy milk. good luck. been there, figured it out.
I've had very good results seeing Charlene Leung, L.Ac. for Chinese herbs that helped stop my cough. The herbs she prescribes are powders you dissolve in some warm/hot water and drink for a period of a week / 10 days. It really helped me once when I had a cough that would not go away, and the next year when I had another cough after a cold, I went to her immediately, and it helped again. Now, whenever I have friends who have lingering coughs, I send them to Charlene, with good results. She is caring and knowledgeable, and kind with children. Her office is in Albany off Solano ph: 559-9038. I hope this helps your son. Anon.
Hi, My son went through the same type of thing. What we found worked for him was an air purifier (target, about 85.). We use it all of the time and love it. Added to that check list of things to try was the cold humidifier. This works really well for my daughter when she has congestion. Another footnote, I was giving my son a cold medicine that made him more phlegmy (word?). It really just thickened his mucus. I don't know why, but it did get better faster when I stopped the over the counter medicine. good luck
hi, Both my kids have had lingering coughs and chronic coughs. We went the same route you did--allergists, pulmonary specialists and got the all clear. Last year a friend who's a homeopath told me to try a spoonful of raw honey (we bought ours at Whole Foods) at the start of any cold. It totally worked! It curbed the big illness and kept the cough at bay. Now we all go for a spoonful of raw honey when we feel that itch in our throats. Try it! heidi
I am sure you have read or heard what I am about to say but I am just underlining the importance of the old-fashioned answer: steam. Steam steam steam. Block the crack under the bathroom door with a towel, turn on the shower on full on hot water and sit in the bathroom with your child. Using steamers in the bedroom. Making steam tents with sheets. This was the only thing that worked for my mom when she went through similar times with me as a child. Then I had to do this with my son. It keeps the phlegm coming out, feels good, and makes for less scary coughs. I promise he will look so much better at least for awhile. When my mom did it for me, I actually thought it was fun. (Note for croup you want the opposite--cold air). Hope this helps. sharr
It sounds like your child may have cough variant asthma. This is a type of asthma that doesn't wheeze, frequently has a clear chest and responds to asthma medicines. You should see a Pediatric Pulmonologist because this is missed my ER docs, Pediatricians, and allergists all the time. The children usually respond to the meds and get over the cold in a normal 3- 5 days rather than 2-3 weeks. Been there done that
We also suffer from our son's lung-related viruses. It seems that every cold he gets goes straight to the lungs and stays there for weeks. We finally spent the bucks for a really good humidifier [which has definitely had a better result than the 3 cheaper versions we'd previously tried], which we leave on all night long during the entire coughing run. We occasionally give him a prescribed codeine based cough syrup, but only at bedtime, and only when it's so outrageously bad that we're all about to fall apart from lack of sleep. The really bad part of the cough now lasts only a couple of days at the most, although the daytime aspect of it still must be largely self-controlled [slowing down, getting water, trying to breathe warmed air on cold days]. I should say, he only gets 2 or 3 colds a year, so it's manageable. -jmf
There are a couple of typically non-Western things you can try: homeopathy and herbs. There are a number of good homeopaths and herbalists in our area and they have a wealth of knowledge. You could even visit a practitioner at Elephant pharmacy (look on their website first to see who is there and on what days). A little mullein tincture, or some other lung tonic herbs will surely help, I know they've helped me many times in the past. I also successfully used homeopathy to treat a lingering cough when I was 8 months pregnant and didn't want to take any medicine. Give it a try! herby mom
Lingering phlegm coughs are the worst. I am a local acupuncturist who sees a lot of this type of cough in adults. Generally, with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, it can be treated. However, I don't treat children. Although, I would highly recommend trying my daughter's acupuncturist Jenny French. She is wonderful and does both invasive and non-invasive types of acupuncture, pediatric massage, herbal medicine, diet and nutritional counseling. Jenny's practice is 90% pediatrics. She is used to dealing with children and is very clever in how she gets them to accept treatment. She has done a lot to help my daughter with her health issues. Jenny works on Peidemont Ave in Oakland on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You can contact her via email at jennifer@pearlmoon.us or phone: 510-759-3598. Her website is www.pearlmoon.us. bina
My son was the very same at that age. Things improved as we slowly ripped up the wall-to-wall carpet in our house and when we got a housecleaner who comes every other week, and perhaps being older helps (he's 11 now). My son seems to like having a cool mist machine in his room at night. Donna
My kid has the same issue and I would highly recommend acupuncturist/herbalist Julia Carpenter as someone who could treat your son's lingering cough. Julia, who has 3 kids of her own, can use tuning forks rather than needles, and knows all about how to get the necessary herbs and tinctures into a kid. She has helped all members of our family, kids and adults alike, through various ailments. Julia is a lovely person and a very gifted healer. You can reach her at 510-488-3572. (Her office is in Central Berkeley.) Jessica
One thing that has made an almost 100% improvement when our kids come down with a cold and the inevitable cough is placing a humidifier in their room at night. I can't tell you how significant that difference is. They practically don't cough at all. It doesn't handle the lingering cough that you describe during the day, but it does allow their bodies to relax at night which may facilitate and/or speed up the healing process. Worth a shot.... JOJ
Besides the good old vitamin C (lemonade made with stevia is a favorite), zinc, and avoiding sugar and white flour, you may want to explore food sensitivities. I, and a number of my clients suffered from regular colds, which disappeared once we identified and avoided food sensitivities at the IgG level of the immune system. Technically these are not allergies, I don't know why these tests aren't administered more broadly. Hopefully traditional medicine will catch up eventually. Meanwhile, more alternative health practitioners such as myself will do our best to spread the word. Check out this article on my website: http://www.eatbetterfeelbetter.com/index.php?id=53 Best wishes, Ilah

2.5 year old's constant nighttime coughing

Sept 2008

My boyfriend's son, who lives with us 4 out of seven days a week has been coughing every day for the last 9 months. It started off as a cold, then the doctor said asthma and gave a bunch of inhalers and allergy meds. Those cleared up the constant coughing but he still coughs pretty consistently during the day and night. He has had allergy testing and the only thing doctors say he is allergic to is dust mites. We did everything possible aside from putting him in a big plastic bubble to clean and eliminate as many dust mites as possible. Doctors still calling it allergy induced asthma. My question is: can this cough thing be managed? Has anyone else had a kid coughing for 9 months straight and no meds/inhalers/ allergy meds helping? Has anyone had success with any kind of TCM or other alternative therapies? Has anyone had experience with something like this and it turned out to be something totally different? He is 2 and a half by the way. Thanks for any advice/suggestions. sarah


i am so sorry to hear about your boyfriend's son. My son gets an asthma cough and I know how irritating it can be for the child and for those who have to listen to it! I wanted to suggest you ask the doctors to look beyond asthma and allergies to an alternative source of the cough. I have a friend who had a similar experience with her son when he was about 3. After pushing and pushing the docs they finally went down his throat into his lungs with a scope (sorry I can't be more specific/clinical). When they were down there they found he had inhaled a small piece of twig that was stuck in his lungs. They were able to extract it during the same procedure and he was fine after that. Keep pushing and looking for answers, especially if there is no relief at all from the meds. Good Luck! Jennifer
My daughter coughed so hard and persistently that she ended up vomiting. Nothing we did at home could ameliorate her coughing. We were in the pediatrician's office many times where she was given prescriptions for asthma and allergies. After months of no improvement we went to Jim Nickelsen for allergy testing, etc. He looked at her, tested her lungs, and said she did not have either allergies or asthma, but rather she had whooping cough. You may want to get this checked out. He told us to expect at least eight to nine months of coughing which is what happened. Good luck. Paula
My daughter is 2 and has had a persistant cough almost since she was about 6 months old. She is otherwise completly healthy. The coughing does not effect her sleeping nor her play time but it really is a nasty, mostly wet but sometimes dry cough. She had x-rays a few months ago to check for asthema and her lungs were completly clear. Her pediatrician recently suggested we try an over the counter alergy med but I haven't started her on it. We put an air purifier in her room which did not really seem to have much effect. I go back and forth between being really worried about it, and being not so worried about it. I'll be curious to see what others responses are to your post. I'm curious...where do you guys live? We're right on the Oakland/emeryville boarder... M
It does sound like an allergy and dust mites is a really nasty one because it is so hard to avoid them. My daughter was diagnosed at 10 months but her trigger is seasonal so she gets a yearly break.

With asthma, the key is to get it under control with albuterol and the like, and then to KEEP it under control with preventative medications - usually inhaled steroids like pulmocort and H2 stabalizers like singulair. The preventative medications have to be used consistently - daily or twice daily as directed whether or not there are symptoms present Once symptoms start, if they are off the meds, it will take 2 to 3 weeks of consistent use for them to be effective again. In the meantime you hope the albuterol is enough to keep them out of the hospital and give them some quality of life. If, after a month of consistent preventative meds, he is not better, then it's time to try something new or something in addition. You say you have him 4 days a week, so all his caregivers need to be on board with this and consistent with his meds.

I have very little experience with alternative meds but I have an adult friend who swears by her alternative meds. She sees Marcy Zelner at 1500 Oak View in Albany.

It is important to remember that if you decide to change meds or treatment in anyway, not to do it suddenly and to follow the instructions of your healthcare professionals. Asthma is an airway disease. Air means oxygen means brain function. Asthma attacks can be deadly if they are severe enough and not controlled fast enough. It is especially important that asthma is controlled while people are young so that growing lungs can develop well and keep the asthma from following them into adulthood as much as possible.

I strongly suggest an asthma record with a place for meds, symptoms and possible triggers plus any other non-asthma related symptoms he might be having. We have noticed patterns that have been very helpful in dealing with my daughter's asthma by keeping a journal. It also helps us keep straight what she's gotten and what she needs when we are rushing around getting to work, sleep, etc. ours is very simple and one page is worth about a month of records. Ask the moderator for my email and I'd be happy to send you the document to use for your own kid. she has asthma but it doesn't have us


My older son (now 17) had a constant cold from the time he was aboaut 2-3 or so...untill I figured out he had a dairy allergy. He'd start to get a cold...it would soon turn into a cough, he'd have the cough for a few weeks, it would almost be better and then it would start all over again. It drove me crazy. I never put him on antibiotics cause I did't believe he had a bacterial infection and the Drs. couldn't tell me what it was. As soon as I took him off of cow dairy it stopped. We used Goat's Milk instead (Meyenberg brand). When my younger was weaned I immediately put him on Goats milk and never even gave him cows milk. He is actually dairy sensitive so we still use goats milk. My older son eventually grew out of the ''sensitivity''...it wasn't an actual allergy, and now can have dairy. Same symptoms can also be a sign of gluten allergy. If it is truely a dust mite allergy (me too), you can give supplements to boost the immune system so his body doesn't react so strongly....but check out dairy/gluten first. Good luck, June
If the little boy is coughing through the day and especially through the night, it is almost certainly asthma, and my guess is that it is almost certainly a reaction to something in his environment. Our daughter was diagnosed with asthma from a very early age - before she was one year old. For the next year, she was on oral inhaled steroids almost consistently. Almost nothing made the coughing go away completely, but the controller drug (in our case QVAR, but FLOVENT is the other popular one) taken 2x/day definitely helped.

Finally, we did three things simultaneously: we pulled our daughter out of a day care we loved, but that may have been the source of an allergen, we pulled all of the rugs out of our house, and we banished all the animals an outside house. I can't tell you exactly what solved the problem, but I can tell you that she hasn't needed her asthma medication in almost a year now. Within a month of doing the above, her chronic coughing was gone. No more inhaled meds, nothing.

Some people think it was the dogs. Her pulmonologist believes it was more likely the day care that was the culprit - maybe old carpeting, maybe mold. It's impossible to know. It's confounding, for sure - but doing everything you can possibly do to eliminate the cause of the breathing trouble is the best way to start. In the meantime, a stabilizer might be a good idea - especially now heading into cold & flu season when kids with asthma are more likely to have colds escalate into something far worse if their coughing isn't under control. Stephanie


I have had similar symptoms myself and recently started using a nasal steroid spray along with allegra. It seems to help. My doctor had another suggestion which was I might have a hard to diagnose bacterial infection (related to pneumonia) which would require a long course of antibiotics. You may want to ask your doctor about these options. Good luck. allergy sufferer
Indoor air pollution can aggravate asthma and allergies. Reduce exposure to perfume, smoke, etc. http://segal.org/asthma/ anon
My experience is with my own coughing. I think most doctors treat symptoms, and you have to figure out what's working best for you. I was prescribed inhalers and all sorts of allergy medicines, and I was told that my cough was a lingering cold, non-existent, etc. I really only had a bad cough at night, and when I was allergy tested, dust mites was my only issue as well. I got on Verymyst (which is fluticosone furoate, or basically the same thing as flonase, but with a different propellant, as the flonase gave me headaches). Soon I was sleeping without benadryl (which I think I was growing dependent on), and I ordered dust-mite protective pillowcase covers and a mattress cover (not plastic!). What a difference! After a month or so on it, I actually forgot the verymyst on my vacation but brought my pillows with me. It's too expensive to just buy on its own (or even to waste, since it's not in the formulary), so I just did without it for a week. I know the allergy places tell you to basically sterilize your room and wash everything in hot water constantly, but I will say I live in dust-mite heaven (piles of books in the bedroom, ''stuff'' everywhere), but I can tell you that I sleep well now. No or very little coughing. The docs also say you're not supposed to stop the fluticosone, since it's a nasal steroid, but at the moment I can't think of any reason to re-start (stay tuned for future complaints?). I think using it helped my poor nose & throat to heal. BTW, the albuterol states that it can increase congestion, which it did with me, so I don't use it unless I really cannot breathe in my lungs. You might try that also. I also occasionally suck on cough drops (not even to finish them), just to give my throat a break. That helps too. I have a HEPA air filter, which may or may not help, and a HEPA vaccuum, which the doc says probably helps the person vaccuuming...

Bottom line is to deal w/ the dust mite issues that you can (pillow covers, mattress covers), get the poor kid a little bit healed (maybe a nasal inhaler?), occasional cough drops, and whatever else you think works. (more power to you if you can keep the dust down and get rid of ''stuff''.) And keep trying something different if that doesn't work (don't automatically assume that another medicine is the right answer, but if it works, go with it!) Good luck. janet


Hello, My son is severy allergic to dustmites. All the bedding is covered with the special encassement against dustmites. We have no carpet anywere in the house, a leather couch and wood only chairs. I change wash his bed very often. No pets, our cat is now an outdoor cat only. We have a fish.... He takes flovent every morning, benadryl when necessary and Prednisolone, when is really bad only about one a year to get in out of the coughing. He doesn't have a lot of playdates in other people's house. All his friends come to our house mainly or in parks.... Good luck.

2004 - 2006 Discussions


2-year-old is coughing, coughing, coughing

June 2006

My 2 year-old is coughing all the time. Last night she was kept awake by her own coughing for about 2 hours in the middle of the night. Obviously we didn't get much sleep either. As heartless as it seems, I would love to put in earplugs to block out the sound of her coughing, but I cannot because we have a newborn who I have to listen for during the night.

Her coughing seems to be caused by a constant stream of snot that she is producing. It drips down her throat and she coughs. It also comes out of her nose all day long. She doesn't seem to try to calm her own coughing, and I don't know how to teach her to do this. Sometimes it seems like she sort of makes herself cough even more, but this could be my imagination because I am so frustrated by the constant coughing. My husband thinks she may be allergic to pollen, but it seems to me more like she has different little colds from daycare and this is the way her body manifests them. This has been going on for months now. The pediatrician recommended the saline spray, but just the suggestion of putting some ''medicine'' or ''water'' in her nose sends her into a screaming fit, and the spray seems to designed to clear a stuffy nose, which is not her problem. I am reluctant to take her to an ENT doctor or allergist, because I don't want them to run a bunch of tests on her, and I am not sure she can take any antihistamine-type medicines at her age anyway. Has anyone had similar symptoms in a toddler, and any success in dealing with them without resorting to traditional medicine? I am starting to get a little desperate and would love any suggestions for helping her get better. Need some quiet nights


Have you thought about that your daughter might wake herself up with coughing? This could be the reason for her not sleeping through. My son did cough at night and this stopped when I took away the sheep skin he was sleeping on and the crip bumpers. If your child is only coughing at night, but not during the day, you can also try to eliminate a few things before seeing an allergist, eg. try changing the laundry detergent etc. Kathrin
Try over the counter liquid antihistamine and see if it makes a difference. I know chloraphenaramine and probably claritin (lortadine) come in good-flavored versions for kids. If it helps, she has allergies. Try different ones and see what helps the most.

If this problem is constant and allergic in nature, you may have to get rid of pets and work hard on house dust(because it doesn't sound seasonal, so it isn't pollen, or at least it isn't only pollen). Dust mites eat skin flakes and therefore accumulate in bedding and stuffed animals; some people react strongly to them (actually, to their excrement) and if you can eliminate them where the allergic person sleeps, you give their allergies an enormous lift. Wash her stuffed animals and bedding in hot water and eliminate feather quilts or pillows, if you are using them. Spray her mattress before re-sheeting with Fabreeze anti-allergy stuff (or better yet, get a special hypoallergenic mattress cover that you regularly launder or vacuum. These covers have only microscopic holes--stops the dust mites from invading the mattress.)

If this makes a difference, you know the problem without having to go through the skin testing with an allergist & hopefully can deal with it with attention to special cleanliness and OTC medications when necessary. If not or it gets worse, do see an allergist. The skin tests and shots are miserable but not nearly as bad as the constant allergies. Three people should not be miserable over this. Good luck. Poor family. Allergy queen


Have you taken your daughter to the pediatrician? Why are you and your husband trying to self-diagnose? Your daughter may well have allergies or asthma- or allergy induced asthma. I would strongly urge you take her to your pediatrician, explain your concerns, and then potentially follow up with an ENT and an allergist. Your pediatrician could help sort this out. Asthma is not to be ignored nor its impact on quality of life minimized. As an asthmatic, every time I get a cold, my asthma kicks up and coughing is one of the biggest symptoms. Additionally, I have a 2 year old and our pediatrician said it was OK to give claritin or benadryl for allergy symptoms, so don't know where you get the idea that your kid can't take antihistamines. But I wouldn't medicate without first seeing the pediatrician anon
At two years old, your child can definitely take Children's Benadryl (an antihistamine). Both my 7 mo old and 2.3 yo have the same symptoms - congestion, coughing, runny nose - (is it a series of colds, is it allergies, who knows??) and take it at night and it definitely helps dry up the nose. In fact, the doctor who suggested it might be allergies said I could give it to them every 6 hours (seems a little much during the day). I generally don't like giving medicine if I don't have to but my daughter's drainage problem has coincided with ear infections so while I'm not sure what is causing what, I think getting the nose dried helps prevent/keep the ears dried. Side benefit: for many kids, it knocks them out and everyone sleeps better. forget the ear plugs!
here is the link to the miracle cough syrup i gave my two and a half year old son ''apitherapy honey elderberry extract''. he had a similar problem last month and it's the only thing that helped him. we bought it at elephant pharmacy. it tastes great, and aside from a nominal amount of alcohol, it's completely safe for people 2 years and up. note: it contains honey, so if your daughter is indeed allergic to pollen, this may not be the thing for her. http://www.honeygardens.com/syrup.htm#el hope you all get some sleep soon
I think it's likely that it's caused by allergies. Another possibility - could she have asthma? My son has asthma, and it mostly manifests as coughing. When we treat the asthma, he has much less coughing. I would definitely get her tested for allergies, even though you're reluctant - we did this with my son, and it was just one blood test, not the big scratch test grid they do with older kids or adults. And it helped us rule that out - we found that no, he wasn't allergic to mold or dust mites, so that wasn't our problem. Also - your toddler CAN take children's benadryl, if you think it may help. Also try a vaporizer or humidifier - that works well for my son. anon
She is absolutely not too young for antihistamines, and it sounds like she desperately needs them. You can try benadryl which may work well but may knock her out. There are non- sedating antihistamines as well. Take her to an allergist. If they recommend tests you don't want all you have to do is say ''I don't want that, is there anything else you can recommend?''. Likely they'll recommend a trial of medications first before worrying about tests. The saline spray sounds kind of silly for the severity of her symptoms -- if you were going to do anything in her nose it should be steroids, but if she can't tolerate that there are alternatives. Kate
I would urge you to see an allergist. Aside from the discomfort your family--especially your daughter--is experiencing at the noise of the coughing, the coughing may be a sign of something seriously wrong with your daughter.

When my daughter was about a year old, she started having lengthy coughing fits that lasted longer than the two weeks the doctor said was normal for a cold. (And she had cold after cold after cold.) It turned out that the coughing was a sign of asthma. I was on the lookout for this, because my son, who is 3 years older than my daughter, had been diagnosed with asthma (although his never manifested itself as coughing; he gets plain old wheezing).

I would encourage you to see an allergist. Yes, it's a pain. And yes, an allergist would probably want to test your daughter for allergies. It's a lot to ask of a 2-year-old. But the testing (skin pricks and/or blood being drawn) lasts for only a few minutes (your daughter's crying may last longer). And the information the doctor can glean from it is invaluable. Also, with a toddler, you can allay a lot of her fears by explaining everything as you go along (trust me, it's a lot harder with an infant).

As far as the possibility of asthma, the doctor will listen to your daughter's lungs with a stethoscope and possibly check her oxygen absorption with a monitor that clips to the finger or toe. These are really easy for a toddler to handle. Asthma is a serious condition that all too many kids get these days. It can kill. But it also can be managed. So your kid can be healthy, and the whole family can sleep better.

For my daughter, the change was immediate. Once she was diagnosed and we put her on a regimen both to combat the attacks and prevent new ones, my daughter's coughing subsided. When she does cough now, we ramp up the asthma treatment. We also do give her over-the-counter pediatric cough medicine to ease her discomfort Gwynne Young gwynneyoung@sbcglobal.net


nighttime coughing is one of the most common symptoms of asthma in young children. please ask your pediatrician to rule out asthma. your daughter is not too young to consider this diagnosis nurse and asthma advocate
My daughter used to have massive coughing attacks also. Coughs that would last forever. It turned out that she was allergic to several things. I took her to someone who did NAET. It's an allergy elimination technique that uses accupressure. It REALLY WORKS!!! You should try it, there are no side effects, it's painless and it gets rid of the allergies, not just keeps them at bay. It's based on Chinese methods of putting the body back into balance. If she is getting all these colds her immune system must be low too. I think you will find referals on the BPN for an NAET practitioner. The person I went to doesn't work on little little children. It might take a few times, and hopefully you can find someone who doesn't charge that much. It's SO worth though!! lots of luck. (BTW-NAET stands for Nampudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique. She is the one who developed this.) anon
You may want to have your child evaluated for asthma. I don't want to scare you, but this is how my son was with colds for about six months and ended up in the hospital twice before we found the right medication for him. Often, asthma presents itself as a cough, *especially* a nighttime cough (this is when the body creates the least of its own steroids, which help control inflammation of the airways). Please ask your doctor. Asthma mom
My just turned 2 year old daughter had a constant runny nose and cough at night from January through April. At first, I thought it was just a series of colds, one after the other, especially since it was winter. But I finally went to see the doctor in April, and she said it's been a particularly bad allergy season and that perhaps she had an allergy. She said to try children's claritin (and to skip benadryl - something about the active ingredient in that wouldn't work she said). The trick the doctor said is that you have to give them the medicine EVERY NIGHT, not just when they have symptoms, and that it can take a week or so to see a difference. Well, it worked. We gave it to her, and after about one week, the coughing stopped and after two weeks, the runny nose totally stopped. I stopped giving her the Claritin for a few days a couple weeks ago, and the snot started up again! I felt weird, and still feel a little weird, about giving a 2 year old Claritin every night, but I much rather do that than have her cough and suffer all day. And if she is that stuffed up in the nose, I am sure it must give her sinus pain and other side effects as well. Maybe you could ask your doctor about allergy medicines True believer in little kid allergies!
Your daughter may have a pollen allergy (grasses are blooming and EVERYONE'S allergies are worse than ever before ...mine are!!.). OR she could have a dairy allergy. VERY common in little ones and would produce exactly the symptoms you're talking about. You might try to eliminate dairy from her diet for a few weeks and see if it changes. My son (now 11) had a dairy allergy when he was 3-4 ish. We thought he kept getting colds at daycare. Nope!!! As soon as we took out the dairy he stopped. He's grown out of it now but we had him on goat's milk instead of cows milk. No cheese, real ice cream, etc. It wasn't such a big deal except at bd parties. Good luck anon
You *almost* answered your own question! You really do need to stop the runny nose...you need a decongestant. Stop the production of phlegm that is running down her throat and the coughing will stop. I went through the same thing...cough medicine after cough medicine until finally someone told me to clear up the running nose! We never know if we're dealing with a cold or an allergy but it's a safe bet that if the mucos is clear, water-like, it's an allergy. If it's yellow or green, it's likely a cold. Good luck and know that we're going through it too! We're in good company ---hacking, hacking, hacking!
I found your message a little odd. You seem more irritated by her coughing than concerned enough to really get to the bottom of it. You won't do what the pediatrician recommended- just because your 2 year old doesn't want you to? You won't take her to another doctor because you're not sure she can take antihistamines at 2. Wouldn't a doctor (or just a little research) clarify this? Take her to the pediatrician for her own good- and I suppose yours as well! another mother
To the mom of the Coughing 2 year old, my 2 year old son exhibited many of the same symptoms and we did choose to go the traditional medicine route so I hope my experience helps you, even if it is not the advice you were originally seeking. Our doctor disagnosed our son with cold-induced asthma. We took him to a pulminologist who confirmed the diagnosis. When he gets a cold he ALWAYS gets an ''attack.'' He never has had an attack without first having a cold. For him the attacks rarely result in audible wheezing, but always result in the persistant cough, like one ''bark-y'' cough every 15 seconds. To help with this he has an albuterol inhaler and a flovent inhaler (steroid). Now, I assume your doctor has ruled out asthma based on listening to her chest. If not, check that out again. If so, other things to try are making her sleep on her stomach (hard to do, but with reminders and turns from mommy and daddy they eventually get it), humidifiers and sometimes walks outside for cold air in the night. Asthma is always worse at night, I can't remember why, but I feel your pain and hopefully she will out grow this. Jennifer
Hi, Mom of the cougher, I understand that night-time coughing can be a sign of asthma (asthma can take the form of coughing, not only wheezing), allergy, or post-nasal drip, none of which can be controlled without medication, although you can certainly make a room more allergy-free. Also, I understand that if a child is denied REM sleep - deep sleep - they don't make growth hormone and of course there is the obvious thing of being irritable and cranky the next day. 2 year olds can take anti-histamines, Advair, etc. I understand your conservative approach but I feel like this must be torture not ohly for you but also your kid. A smart allergist or ENT doc can help you.

P.S. One of my children is an especially big night-time cougher after she's had a chest cold and the cough lingers like mad. Her doctor puts her on a short-term course of Codeine and a longer course of Advair. Works like a charm Mother of a former cougher


It's allergies. Classic symptoms and kids can take antihistamines at age two. In fact, Benadryl is an antihistamine that actually works great except it may make him drowsy or amped up, depending on his genetic make-up. Maybe try it for a week or so. The thing about allergies is that prevention is key, you can't just give a dose of antihistamine after the kid has already had a histamine release in his body and expect it to clear up. It might make it a little better for a while, but as soon as the medicine wears off, and the offending agent is encountered again, another reaction takes place. The medicine has to be taken every day as a preventative. Sometimes people just need to take allergy meds in the spring (like my husband) or another season, or they need it year round. If you've ever had allergies bad enough to make it seem like a continuous string of colds, you would know how bad your kid feels and treat him. You can also try alternative meds or allergy shots if you are not into medicating every day.

Generally anti-meds but also anti-suffering


Our son also coughed and coughed all night (and day) long every time he got a little cold, and was finally diagnosed with asthma. Like your daughter, he has a post-nasal drip thing going, which makes the snot settle in his lungs, and so every cold ends with up coughing, coughing and more coughing. The saline spray helps A LOT, and his nose is never stuffy, but the spray seems to clear out the post nasal drip. He also uses preventative asthma medications daily, including singulair, which is supposed to help with this exact issue when the root cause is allergies. It is really hard on kids that young to cough so much- they don't want to cough just as much as you don't want to hear it, but they need to do it just to breathe.

At least for my son, it's not something he could ''learn to calm.'' Also, antihistimines just make the cough / cold worse and can be dangerous if the cause of the coughing is asthma. As for your question about dealing with this in a non-traditional method, some people swear by NAET treatment for asthma (if that's what your daughter has). That's the only non-traditional treatment I've come across, and I've been looking for a while. Hope this helps Mom of Cougher


I don't understand your reluctance to take your daughter to an ENT or allergy specialist, because I think that those sorts of specialists would be ideally placed to figure out what is going on with your daughter and her health. If the coughing is keeping you up, imagine what it's doing to her sleep cycle. I can't imagine it's good. I would rethink your stance, and get her to a doctor.

FWIW, I've found the saline helpful to me, with my allergies and occasional colds, because keeping my sinuses washed out helps dampen my body's reaction to the allergens/irritants. You might try to rinse your daughter's nose despite the screaming, and see if it helps the sleep issue (for everyone). Good Luck Donna


You can try giving her Robitussin. Don't give her the kid version, give her the regular one. It's Robitussin Cough DM. It works great. I have a 2 year old too who gets coughing spells. Give her 1 tsp. I asked my doctor & it's fine to give to a toddler. No more coughing in my house!
I don't deal with the little ones. but I know about coughing due to snot. you need to get the snot out. or dry it up. The way to dry it up is antihistamines. and it seems mainly a problem at night. so you could use over the counter diphenhydramine. (which should knock your kid out, though some kids have a ''paradoxical reaction'' and ''get hyper'' Not sure on the dose for a 2 year old. but call your pediatrician's advice line? during the day, over the counter pseudoephedrine. again, ask your pediatrician for dose Sophia, adolescent medicine MD
It must be hard to listen to all that coughing. My husband sometimes gets very long lasting coughs during the winter. He talked with a nurse at Kaiser about some non-drug thing that he could do for it, and she said drink lots and lots of water (and herbal teas). It worked. He did drink a lot though, and it took several days of this as I recall. It's simple and healthy and I hope it works for your daughter :) Miriam
My son and I both get pretty irritating post nasal drip every time we have colds. Out of everything I have tried, the two most effective treatments I have found are homeopathic and made by Boiron and Boericke & Tafel. I have matched these against over-the-counter traditional cough medicines and the homeopathic treatments win by a landslide. From Boiron I get their pellets in the little blue tube labeled ''post nasal drip'' and I use that in conjunction with the cough syrups for children made by either Boiron or Boericke & Tafel. Both are honey based and taste just like honey, so my 3 year old is more than happy to eat it (it took about 1/2 hour of convincing the first time since he didn't believe me!). The post nasal drip pellets recommend 5 tablets each hour but I give my son 3 tablets each 15 mintues for the first hour until the effect kicks in. This combined with a warm bath in a REALLY steamy bathroom before bed usualy does the trick for my son.

Honestly, I have tried the Simply Stuffy nasal drops for kids on myself and they clear my nose very well, but it takes both my husband and myself sitting on my screaming son to get them in, and by then, he's having another coughing fit and the neighbors are calling Child Protective Services. So I gave up on that :-) mom of a cougher


I'd recommend going to an allergist, I know you said you're reluctant because ''I don't want them to run a bunch of tests'' but all they did in my son's case was a scratch test. My son was having problems with constant drip/cough/stuffy ears and it turns out he has a bunch of allergies (including pollen, dustmites, and cat dander). He did very well with the testing which consisted of bunch of little scratches that were all done simultaneously. We also went to an ENT who did no testing, he just looked into my son's ears (this was to determine why he was experiencing hearing loss, which was due to the constant mucus). We did not discover this problem until my son was four, I recommend having your daughter looked at now in case she does have allergies. It's much better to intervene early. amanda
My daughter went through something very similar to what you describe: a string of colds that she picked up at daycare and the park and every place else we've gone where toddlers sneeze. But the main problem was her incessant coughing that seemed to mostly arise while she slept. We called the advice nurse and took her to the doctor. They told us that it was a lingering post-nasal drip that caused the coughing due to all the colds and possible allergies. They didn't want to do any testing, but they did prescirbe Albuterol - an asthma medicine. We gave her 2 doses and the coughing and daily sniffles have totally subsided. I don't like giving medicine and drugs when she only has a cold or a cough because I believe it's healthier for her to work through her symptoms, but this wasn't going away. I strongly recommend visiting the doctor just to see if it's not a simple thing like what we experienced. What finally motivate me to take our daughter in was that I realized if her cough was disturbing our sleep night after night, she must have been missing her super-important rest too. She's been much happier since she's slept through the night without coughing! Jenny
Take her to an ENT or allergist. It doesn't make sense -- you want to avoid going to another doctor or some tests for the sake of her comfort, yet she has been in obvious discomfort every single day for months. You're the adult and parent, be strong and take her to the doctor. It's like brushing her teeth -- she may not want to do it but it's for her own good. She is probably getting inadequate sleep and that's not going to help her get over whatever it is she has. I think medications, such as antibotics, were over prescribed in the past and as a result our local culture has a knee jerk reaction to any kind of western medical intervention.

I have learned my lesson about second guessing what looks like simple cold or allergy symptoms in my son. Last year he was coughing and coughing for over a month. Sometimes he'd cough and then lay down in the middle of playing to rest. I just assumed it was a lingering cold and he was tired. I finally took him in and it ends up he was having asthma attacks. He was coughing because he couldn't get enough air! And the laying down was because he wasn't getting enough air to even continue playing and he had to stop to breath. It's viral asthma, which means he only gets it about once a year after a cold. The inhalers are a much better alternative to his brain not getting enough oxygen. And recently he had an excema rash that we were all assuming was seasonal allergies. I was giving him homeopathic remedies which alleviated the symptoms but he'd still have bad flare ups. I finally took him in after a month -- ends up it is a severe bacterial skin infection that only antibiotics will cure.

So don't play doctor with a very young child. Go see an expert and get real advice. If it's allergies, then you can explore alternative medicines. If it's bacterial or asthma, then that's another story anon


I had a two-year-old with a chronic cough and seemingly never-ending colds. A couple of times we ended up in the ER for wheezing. I was told to put my son on albuterol and Flovent every time he got a cold. There was no way I was going to do that, so I did a lot of research on line and ended up at Dr. Randall Neustaedter down in Redwood City. He treated my son with chinese herbs and a couple of other supplements and we've essentially had a cold/cough-free year. It's really quite amazing. His website is www.cure-guide.com. I'm happy to communicate with you about his strong and weak points. tosha
Hi there. My son has had allergies since he was a 1 year old. He's now 6 1/2. He's seen an allergist during the whole time. I couldn't imagine him not going to a a specialist. Please, please go see a specialist. It may help you understand what's happening to your child and help the symptoms and then help your frustrations. Why would you not want to have her go unless your afraid of what the outcome might be? She may have a food, environmental or other allergy that could be helped. And you have another adult that you can talk with. Many of us with children with allergies go see Dr. James Nickelson in Berkeley. Best of luck mom of allergy kid
I was floored by the reponses of parents unwilling to put their children on medicine for asthma. We've found great relief using Flovent and Albuterol (and its varieties). My twin daughters had ''coughing-asthma'' practically from birth but not until we could see a chronic history, about 18 months of on-and- off coughing, were they finally diagnosed with coughing asthma. What a relief because we then started treatment, sometimes aggressively. When flu season struck, we'd spend the fall and winter with a girl who coughed all night, or for days, or until she threw up (and sometimes all of the above). Last year we were in the emergency room at least once a month and one daughter was hospitalized briefly for low blood oxygen level. But, we could not have made it without the medicines; they would have been so much worse without then during flu season. We'd have gone into the emergency room 150% more. The times we managed to get an asthma attack under control, we could all ''breath easy'' (pardon the pun). Not getting in front of an attack can exhaust a girl. We are grateful for the interventions.

I understand the hesitation to give steriods to a child; I had them. But we're talking a potentially life threatening disease. I don't understand the tendency to assume ''alternative'' therapies as better simply because they are either Eastern, or not-medicine. Go with the meds if that is what you have decided. I'd suggest adding to that any alternative you want to try. But the obvious stuff, like removing pet dander (we got rid of a cat), dusting and keeping floors clean(we have no carpeting), no smoking, etc help tremendously.

Our girls are doing very well. No side effects, and this winter, their fourth on our planet, their lungs started to show sings of enough growth that their symptoms are subsiding Twins don't cough anymore


Hi, Mom of the cougher, I understand that night-time coughing can be a sign of asthma (asthma can take the form of coughing, not only wheezing), allergy, or post-nasal drip, none of which can be controlled without medication, although you can certainly make a room more allergy-free. Also, I understand that if a child is denied REM sleep - deep sleep - they don't make growth hormone and of course there is the obvious thing of being irritable and cranky the next day. 2 year olds can take anti-histamines, Advair, etc. I understand your conservative approach but I feel like this must be torture not ohly for you but also your kid. A smart allergist or ENT doc can help you.

P.S. One of my children is an especially big night-time cougher after she's had a chest cold and the cough lingers like mad. Her doctor puts her on a short-term course of Codeine and a longer course of Advair. Works like a charm Mother of a former cougher Anon


8-month-old's persistent cough

Oct 2004

My 8 month old son has had an ongoing cough for 6 months now. We have seen pulminary specialist, done allergy test, CF test, changed his environment, and given him medicine for both asthma and acid reflux. Unfortunately, none of these have given our son any relief. Luckily, he is a happy healthy kid on all other respects. We are running out of ideas. Has anyone gone through this? Any information would be extremely helpful! Thanks. mom in need of help...


When my younger son (now 9) was a toddler he had a cough for almost 2 years. We tried antibiotics, acupuncture, allergy testing, vacuuming a lot, homeopathics, etc. We finally discovered he was ''sensitive'' to dairy products''. You can have a sensitivity to substances without having an actual allergy. And by the way, allergy testing is not always very accurate in young children, I found out.

Once we took him off of all diary, his cough stopped. He was able to tolerate goats milk (which is closest in nutritional make up to human breast milk), sheep feta, goat cheeses, soy products, etc.

Eventually he grew out of it and now can eat cow dairy with no problem although our whole household drinks goats milk (Meyenberg brand is tastiest) and he doesn't like cows milk. Your babe could also have a wheat sensitivity...VERY common, and unfortunately in MANY things we eat. Check these out by elimnating one of the two for a few weeks and see what happens. Good luck. It's very frustrating...been there. June


hello, We had the exact same coughing problem with our daugher, who is now four. Went through all the tests you did, put her on Zantax for possible acid reflux, had a chest xray, blood tests for allergies, elevated her crib mattress and nebulized her twice a day (for possible asthma). Nothing worked, except for her getting older. At about 16 months, the cough was GONE and hasn't returned. I think a lot of kids out grow this type of cough. Good for you for checking every possible avenue. I know a constant cough in your baby can be really disconcerting. heidi
I could have written the same letter 5 years ago. Our otherwise healthy and happy 10 month old also had an ongoing barking cough. We went to all the specialists, had a CF test (very stressful), treated him for asthma, tried albuterol which just made it worse - nothing worked. Then he devleoped an ear infection which was unrelated - he was put on an antibioitic and within 3 days his cough was gone (it had been going on for 4+ mos!) It was finally dtermined that he had a minor sinus infection the entire time that was causing drainage that was making him cough. It obviously wasn't bad enough to make him feel bad, but it was just enough to keep him coughing. Evidently it is very hard to diagnose a sinus infection in a small child. Anyway the antibiotic for the ear cleared up the sinus problem and the cough went away never to return. Good luck!! kristi
our son went through the exact same process of elimination for his cough when he was about 18 months old. none of the different medications, x-rays and scpecialist visits turned up anything. he has been healthy for about 4 months now so we are hoping he has grown out of whatever was causing the cough. i don't have any answers except to let you know i feel your frustration for not knowing what could be wrong with your child. one of the radiologists told me once that some kids are just very unlucky and happen to catch every little bug that comes there way. good luck!

14 mth old has been coughing at night for 2 weeks

May 2004

Recently our 14 month old daughter had a bout with a runny/stuffy nose that lasted about 10 days. She did not run a temp, and after giving her some over-the-counter meds recommended by her doctor this seemed to run its course. Toward the end she developed a cough that has hung on for about 2 weeks. It is not really a productive cough, she just sounds like she needs to clear her throat (not easy for a 14 mth old!) Our doctor has attributed it to drainage down the back of her throat, and since my husband and I both suffer from allergies, we thought allergies might be the cause.

The main problem with this is that our daughter may go all day without a single cough, then she wakes in the middle of the night with a fairly severe coughing fit. We have tried giving her Benedryl and Triaminic Night Time before bed (at our dr's suggestion) but nothing seems to help. She will wake up, sometimes coughing so much that she spits up, then after maybe 5- 10 minutes, it's over and she goes back to sleep. She also coughs a lot when she first wakes up in the morning.

I am just wondering if anyone else has experienced this, and if so, what can be done to lessen the coughing?. I have thought this might be a sign of asthma but she has not had any trouble breathing. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Danielle


Your child may not have bronchitis, but still, I think the advice at this website about limiting exposure to aerosols and lung irritants may help. http://www.well-net.com/prevent/bronchit.html
sunsol
This sounds like it may be night time asthma. Our son developed a non-productive night cough at about 16 - 18 mos. He never had any trouble breathing during the day. They thought it was a lingering sinus infection, but antibiotics never cleared it up. After almost two months he ended up getting terrible bronchitis and walking Pneumonia and had to have breathing treatments. At that point they determined that he most certainly had a mild form of asthma - his was aggravated by a smoking bar-b-q (cedar chips) We began using albuteral and within a few weeks the cough went away. Now whenever he starts the night coughing, it is not frequent, we give him one or two albuterol treatments and it seems to go away. We are also very good about vacuuming and dusting his room abd keeping windows closed when it is very windy or htere is a high pollan count. Good luck kristi

2003 & Earlier


16-month-old coughing at night

Sept 2003

Hi. My 16 month old daughter has been coughing only at night for the past almost FOUR months. Out of the four months she's only had probably about 3 nights of peaceful sleep. When this first started, I took her to the doctor and they didn't seem very concerned about it. They just said some children take longer to recover. The doctor also said maybe it could be allergies. Three months has passed and she is still coughing in the middle of the night.

I take her to the doctor for her 15 month check up and I let the doctor know she is still coughing. She says to try giving her antibiotics (Amoxillian) for 10 days to see if it'll clear up. If it doesn't try giving her Aubuterol (asthma inhaler) every 6 hrs. Well, the antibiotics didn't clear it up and now I'm trying to give her the inhaler. It seems a little hard for her to inhale it because she doesn't like the mask over her little face. I tried to let her inhale it after she has fallen asleep and it seems to work but the cough is still there.

I'm wondering if anyone out there has experienced this and if you have any advice for me? It's been a very tiring 4 months for both her and I. We'd just like to have a good night sleep. Thank you! Jane


My daughter had allergies (unbeknowst to me) at about ten months. She would get this cough that wouldn't go away. I finally went to a homeopathic practitioner, after trying some horrible cough medicine from Kaiser that affected her nervous system. Read up on homeopathy. It's a really interesting form of healing, pretty tried and true. My daughter has reacted sucessfully to treatments, even now when she's 12 years old. There are no bad reactions, if a remedy doesn't work, it doesn't work. Beware though that the first visit will cost quite a bit as it is longer. They ask A LOT of questions about all aspects of the child to determine what the right remedy is for the child. The remedies themselves are not that expensive and follow-up visits are normal prices. There is the Hanhneman Clinic in Albany (I liked Matt Vuksinich and a woman named Christine-not sure if they are there anymore), and many other practitioners in the Bay Area. Please try this and good luck. Nadja
Several possible things come to mind regarding your child (4 months is a long time for both of you to suffer):

1) eliminate potential allergens in the BR (dust mites, synthetics, poor air circulation, animal dander, chemicals, stuffed animals. etc.) 2) wash down all surfaces, including mattress cover, with black tea and place in the sun to kill any mites 3) evaluate the diet carefully as responses to foods can take only 1 minute and up to 72 hours. What ever was introduced 4 months ago may have to be eliminated until her gut is more developed. 4) probiotics, decimated by the antibiotics and Allbuterol, can help rebuild your daughter's colon bacteria, an integral part of her immune system. Babydophilus by Jarrow may be helpful. Nori Hudson


is it possible that there is dust or mold or something like that which is the problem? i don't konw what you do about mold, but for dust you can perhaps borrow or rent a hepa vacuum and do a thorough attack on the dust. also perhaps an allergy to your laundry detergent if it is scented, that can sometimes irritate the lungs? good luck! anon
Please get your child evaulated for asthma. My 5 yo daughter had the same chronic nighttime cough for more than six months and we received the same diagnosis from the doctors (allergies, lingering cold, postnasal drip). Just this week she had a severe asthma attack and was nearly hospitalized. The pediatrician reviewed her charts and immediately diagnosed the kind of asthma that manifests as chronic coughing and throat clearing (rather than wheezing, which I think is more common). If your toddler does have asthma, you can learn now how to manage it now and get the medications you need to treat it at home, so you will be prepared if an emergency situation arises. This is, as my pediatrician stresses, a potentially fatal disease, so it's really important to find out if that's the problem.

Also, with the inhaler issue--I think--but am not sure--that Children's Hospital has some sort of support group for families of asthmatic children. (I'm not sure because this is all very new for me!) Perhaps there's someone at that hospital who can check your technique or give you tips. Susan


My son coughed for about 6 months only at night. We followed the same medicinal path you have and it did eventually go away. The most difficult part was the abuterol mask thing, but eventually he got used to it and used to like walking around with it on his face. I have a lot of allergies so I assumed that was what was affecting him. So... I washed his sheets a lot, vacuumed, etc. Not sure if it helped though. Good luck. anon
Ugh, that is just awful. I wish your doctor(s?) would work with you more proactively on this. You and your daughter deserve better sleep!

As for the albuterol--are they only giving you the clear tube with the mask, with a small puffer? That is really hard. I remember when I started giving asthma treatments to my little guy, at 9 mos. He HATED it.

It did help a lot to put on a video while we did treatments. It also helped that he got the albuterol from a nebulizer (which is probably warranted for your daughter at this point), and that one wonderful tech showed me how to use the adult equipment with a little one--mine hated the nebulizer mask most of the time, too. This other way is called a ''blow-by'' and is far more effective than using the mask on a crying child (I was told that they breathe more shallowly when they cry). With blow-by, you set your child up watching a video, and aim the vapor at her mouth. Mine even grew to like holding the adult mouthpiece in his teeth. Sometimes he would breathe from that end and then the flexible-tube end.

In the end, you need more ideas and options. Take care. Jennie


Our 2 yr old son had chronic coughing at night for several months in a row, but is fine now. He had pneumonia twice as an infant, one of which was only diagnosed on a 2nd opinion, and this may have made him more susceptible. Your child may have asthma or alergies if the coughing is truly chronic. What helped our son sleep without coughing was simply putting his mattress on an angle, with his head at the highest end. You can do this with a foam ''wedge'' pillow, or make your own ''ramp''. For more serious coughs, a steeper incline helped. Over-the-counter cough medicine was also useful during the serious bouts. JWIL
If you think it may be asthma, try to reduce triggers, such as dust and dust mites, perfume, toxic cleaning products, new carpet, pets, etc. Here is a link about triggers: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/asthmatriggersandmgmt.stm

Because the coughing happens at night and because we spend a lot of time in our bedrooms, it is helpful to keep the bedroom especially clean. However, exposure to triggers during the day could manifest in coughing at night. anon


I am not a doctor, but it sounds like your child may have what my son was diagnosed with when he was about two years old, which is reactive airway disease. It is not asthma, but can be a precursor to asthma, if it's not treated effectively, says our doctor.

In my son's case, often after he'd recovered from a cold, his coughing would continue for almost a month, especially at night, or after he'd been running outside a lot. I've learned over the years that the cough has a different sound than the cough he has when he has an actual cold--more spasmodic sounding--so it's gotten easier to figure out where the cold stops and the reactive airway disease begins.

In my experience, regular MDs don't show much of an interest in this fairly common condition until it's full-blown--i.e., until Albuterol is a necessity. We sought out a good homeopathic doctor instead--Christine Ciavarella--who prescribed a homeopathic remedy that he took once a month for quite a long time. He seemed to respond well to this treatment--the combination of the homeopathic remedy and our learning the sound of a reactive airway cough (which was the trigger for using other homeopathic remedies as well) lessened the ocurrences of coughs moving in the direction of reactive airway disease. He also had a prescription for Albuterol, which we've had to use on occasion, but my feeling is that we did not have to use it as often as we would have had he not been on the remedy. He's 7 now, and it seems like we're out of the woods, for the most part. We're very happy that he did not develop asthma.

I hope your child has a healthy early childhood, but if he/she is anything like our son, we found early on that we needed extra help that a regular medical practice isn't set up to provide--that of proactive treatment for all the little things--colds, flu, etc. Good luck! madwig


have you tried a humidifier? Judith
Get a referral to an allergist. Many pediatricians don't have the training in this area. My son had the same problem so I can relate to how you miust be feeling. It turns out my son has allergies to dustmites and mold. His coughing was particularly bad on foggy nights and windy nights, and often was at its worst between the hours of 2-5am. Apparently certain types of mold release their spores around this time. He takes a low dose of the allergy medicine Zyrtec at bedtime and we are all sleeping much better! Try to get to an allergist if you can. Good luck! No more coughing
Hello Jane, I understand just what you are going through. My daughter who is now 13 experienced this same sort of cough when she was about that age. It was not untill my husband and I took her in to the doctor many times about this cough, yes they prescribed antibiotics of (Amoxillian) for her as well which did not work. This cough was very depressing to her and I and she was so young I was up endless nights listening to her cough I was in tears. One Sunday I took her into urgent care and the attending physician on duty that day saved our lives. She immediately said this chid has asthma I thought to my self no way I don't have asthma and neither does her father, however my mother in law was a chronic suffer of asthma which I had totally forgotten. So he suggested a breathing treatment for her which was done in the office on the table for about 30min, after that treatment my daughter had regained her little life back and from this point when the cough would occur I would make an urgent app. and tell the doctor that she needed a breathing treatment. There is also a few other precautions that I would take when she was little was keeping her neck and or head covered on days like this if you live in the bay area mornings and days like this seem to activate that terrible cough for them. She resisted but I would say to her remember that ugly cough that kept you up all night and she would be ok. I literally made her wear a hat on her head if days were like this it was very important to keep the head and neck covered when she was exposed to air. As she got older and the cough would occur I would get her to use her inhaler every two hours for about two days and she would be just fine. She has grown out of it but she was just coughing yesterday and I said to her get your inhaler and use it!

I hope this helps you out! I know just what you are going through. Good luck Tris


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