Why Does My Child Only Cough at Night?

Every parent knows that feeling of dread when they hear their child start coughing. Coughing can often accompany a cold, strep throat, or some other illness. No parent wants to see their child suffering through even the common cold that can last as long as 7 to 10 days! But what does it mean if your child is only coughing at night and doesn’t seem to develop any cold or flu-like symptoms? Here are a few things that might be causing your child to cough at night.

Your child might have seasonal allergies.

While most people envision a runny nose or watery eyes when they think of season allergies, some people have other symptoms. Less common symptoms can include a stuffy nose, headache, constricted sinuses, and post nasal drip. Post nasal drip may not cause a cough during the day. However, at night when your child is laying down on their back or their side the mucus is more likely to settle in a way that obstructs their breathing and causes a cough. If you suspect this may be the case you can try giving your child an OTC child strength allergy medication for a few days and see if the cough subsides.

Your child might have a dust or dander allergy.

It is impossible to avoid the presence of dust and dander in your house and this problem is only more pronounced if you have any furry family pets. These tiny particles settle on the floors, couches, beds and other surfaces in your home. For a child with a relatively mild dust or danger allergy this may not trouble them during the day. At night, when their face is resting on a surface collecting these particles they are breathed in in a higher concentration. This can cause irritation of the nose and throat and swelling of the sinuses that can lead to coughing. Washing your child’s bedding more often can reduce this problem. A daily allergy medication may also be necessary.

Your child’s bedroom might be too warm.

Everyone likes to feel warm and cozy in their bed at night but it is easy to get too warm underneath big downy blankets. Coughing can be the result of becoming overheated. If your child’s cough goes away when they get out of bed or remove the blankets it is very likely that they are getting overheated. Sleep experts recommend sleeping in a cool room with a number of blankets appropriate for the season for the best sleep. Try turning down the thermostat at night, taking away a blanket, or ensuring that your child sleeps in lighter pajamas to try and alleviate this problem.

Your child may have asthma.

Night coughing can be a symptom of asthma. A child with asthma will often wake up coughing and feeling like they are having a hard time getting their breath. They may also feel overheated or disoriented. This may not appear to be a typical asthma attack but this is because your child is probably sleeping through the initial less intense symptoms. If your child’s cough is bad, waking them up and causing them to hack then it is a good idea to ask your doctor if it is possible that they have asthma.

Your child might have an underlying illness.

Some illnesses can appear to be almost asymptomatic. For example, walking pneumonia often has very few symptoms despite being just as serious as regular pneumonia cases. A night time cough can be caused by the fluid in the lungs moving while your child is laying down. This makes it difficult to breathe and causes coughing. If your child’s cough has come on suddenly then a visit to the doctor might be in order to see if there is some underlying cause that isn’t obvious.

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