We at Hyfe, Inc., are a company devoted to working on tools to better understand the importance of cough. It is Hyfe’s intention in the future to seek regulatory approval for medical products that analyze cough in order that they may be used to diagnose, monitor, and facilitate better treatment of respiratory illnesses.
The pleasures of being a parent are balanced with dealing with your child's health issues – one of parenting's most difficult responsibilities. A common problem that parents encounter is their toddler coughing at night.
Even though anyone can cough at night, in a toddler's case it can be extremely upsetting, worrisome, and draining. This article will shed some light on this topic and hopefully put your mind at ease.
When a toddler coughs, the type of sound they produce and the additional symptoms present can aid in determining the underlying cause. It is common for parents to notice that their toddler's cough worsens during the night. This is due to mucus drainage from the toddler's nose and sinus cavity down their throat while lying down to sleep.
The causes of coughing in toddlers vary and include the common cold, asthma, acid reflux, or sinus infections. Toddlers are especially susceptible to colds and flu, due to their immature immune systems. If this is the case, the cough will often pass in days, although it may take weeks.
Additionally, though most toddler coughs resolve within a few weeks, studies indicate that 5-10%1 of children experience a persistent cough that lasts for an extended period. This cough could either be dry or wet.
A dry cough, sometimes called a hacking cough, following a cold is likely due to residual mucus that will eventually clear up. However, when a child's dry cough is mainly present at night, it could indicate a more serious condition. Irritation caused by mucus in inflamed and narrowed lung passages can cause a cough, especially when lying down, after exercise, in cold air, or if the toddler has a cold or allergies.
Wet coughs are characterized by the expulsion of phlegm or mucus from the respiratory tract, usually caused by viral or bacterial infections.
A few particular conditions that would cause a toddler to cough2 at night include:
Fortunately, most cases of toddler coughing at night can be treated at home:
This information does not replace a doctor's opinion. Please consult with your child's healthcare provider before administering any medications.
The severity of a toddler coughing at night depends on the underlying cause. In many cases, a nighttime cough in a toddler may be caused by a viral infection (for example, the common cold) and will resolve on its own within a week or two.
While most cases of toddler coughing at night are not serious, there are some situations where you should seek medical attention. To find and treat the underlying cause, it's crucial to seek expert medical attention if symptoms worsen or become more severe.
With that in mind, you must immediately get in touch with a doctor if your child demonstrates any of the following symptoms:
These symptoms could demonstrate a more serious underlying condition requiring urgent medical attention to avoid more complications and ensure your child feels better quickly.
While a toddler can usually sleep through a cough, it can be uncomfortable and disturb their sleep, negatively affecting their general health and well-being.
It's important to seek medical help immediately if your toddler's cough keeps them up at night or is followed by other symptoms like fever, wheezing, or trouble breathing.
A chronic cough can occasionally indicate a more serious underlying disease that needs medical attention. A medical expert can examine your child and recommend the best course to manage their cough and enhance their sleep quality.
Below are a few recommendations for making lifestyle adjustments that can assist in reducing your toddler's nighttime coughing:
- Ensure your toddler consumes plenty of fluids throughout the day – Being hydrated can clear mucus and ease coughing
- Elevate the head of the bed – Your child can breathe more easily at night, and postnasal drip will be less of an issue
- Use a humidifier – A cool-mist humidifier can help maintain moisture in the air, easing coughing and reducing lung irritation
- Reduce exposure to smoke and other irritants – They can worsen nocturnal coughing and overall lung health; quitting smoking brings health benefits to both you and your family and prevents exposure to secondhand smoke
- Encourage your toddler to wash their hands frequently
Yes, the type of cough does count when treating toddlers' nighttime coughing. Knowing the type of cough can help choose the best course of action because different kinds of coughs can signify various underlying causes.
For instance, a dry cough that produces no mucus may be brought on by a viral illness, so drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest would be the best treatment. On the other hand, a wet cough that produces phlegm may indicate a bacterial infection, which a medical expert may treat with antibiotics.
The use of cough suppressants in early childhood should be done cautiously as they can have negative side effects and may not be successful in treating coughs brought on by certain conditions such as asthma.
If you're unsure of how to manage your toddler's nighttime cough, it's best to consult a pediatrician for guidance on the best course of action.
Other symptoms you should watch out for your toddler coughs at night are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing (may manifest as drooling)
- High fever
- Coughing up blood
- A persistent, wet cough
- Makes a "whooping" sound when breathing after coughing
- Difficulty sleeping
Dealing with a toddler coughing at night can be challenging, but it's important to remember that it's a common issue many parents face. Fortunately, toddler coughing at night is manageable; therefore, it is important to identify the cause and follow the appropriate treatment plan.
Remember, if the coughing persists or the child is showing other concerning symptoms, or you're ever in doubt or concerned about your toddler's health, don't hesitate to seek medical attention.References
Marion is a freelance health and wellness writer with a passion for all things digital health. She loves diving deep into the latest research and trends in the industry and distilling them down into fun, relatable pieces that people can relate to. Whether you're a health nut or a tech geek, she is always looking for new and interesting ways to help readers access quality and evidence-based information.