18 answers

21 Month Old Son Coughing for a Month!

Hi Moms-
So alittle bit of background here. My son was treated in the fall for allergies and asthma. He was on an inhaler, singulair and another steriod(for a week) that really did clear it up. I was not happy about the steriod but it did the trick. So...now we're entering spring and my poor little guy started coughing again...about a month ago. We started the inhaler and singulair and it did nothing. So we stopped and took him to the doctor. We did not want to keep going the steroid route...has to be other options. They said he had a sinus infection. So he went on an antibiotic for 10 days. Well...10 days later...the cough was no better. He has no other symptoms. No runny nose, watery eyes...just a cough. He wakes up anywhere between 2 to 6 times a night coughing. Sometimes the coughing fits can last up to about 40 minutes at a time. He also sometimes coughs hard enough that he throws up. Apparently sinus infections can be a result of allergies. However, the doctor said this time is wasn't allergies. So we took him BACK to the doctor and said the antibiotic did not work. So now we are trying to treat him for acid reflux. He has an antacid to chew and were are suppose to make an appointment for him to get a berrium and an Xray.
So my questions are...has anyone ever taken a toddler for a berrium? How would they possibly get him to sit for an Xray? I will not have him sedated for something I don't even think is the problem.
Has anyone ever experienced coughing like this with their child? It is heart breaking to deal with these coughing fits b/c I can't do anything to make it better. We have tried everything we can think of. We've used vicks, humidifier, steam in the bathroom...but nothing will obviously solve this problem. My husband and I need sleep and want to help our baby. We are thinking we may just need to make an appointment with an allergist and see what they say. I am running out of clues!!!
Any insight would be appreciated.
Thanks Moms.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all of the advice. It's heart breaking to not be able to fix it right away for your baby. I ended up canceling the chest xray, berrium and RTI. I made an appointment with the allergist. I think this will be a less invasive route to try first. I don't want to expose him to unnecessary radiation at this age. If the allergist doesn't have answers, then we can think about that route again. Actually, I started the singulair again and changed the way I give it to him (the granules) and I think he is getting all of it better now. And I have also taken some advice and took his humidifier out of the room. And guess what?? He actually has slept through the night without coughing a few times!! Woo hoo! So I'm not sure what is doing it, but he is definitely doing better. Hence why I didn't want to put him through the berrium if it's not necessary. Thanks again ladies! So wonderful to have you all to come to.

Featured Answers

Hi A.,
I personally had issues with chronic sinus infections and a horrible time with drainage and coughing. I especially would cough at night from the drainage.I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist. He was able to put me on allergy pills plus I was able to find out what exactly I was allergic to, which has helped me to stay clear (as much as possible) away from things that really set my allergies off. I was also able to get information from my docotor on what things to change in my lifestyle to alleviate the allergies. It's the simplest things in everyday life that set me off. I recommend an ear, nose and throat specialist. It's amazing what you can find out. Things you never think of.

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I had the same problem with my son at around that age.. He was diagnosed with asthma and I know now that this was what it was. We have it under control with Singulair. He hardly ever coughs now but when he does (he is actually starting up currently and I atrtribute this to the seasonal allergies) I give him albuterol every 4 hours and Pulmicort 1x per day. I also give hime Zyrtec during allergy season.

I would definitely get him at an allergist...they are SO much better at dealing with this than the pediatricians are.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.
My son is 4 1/2 and also coughs alot during winter/spring. He does have allergies and was diagnosed with asthma. I don't like steriods either, so when it gets really bad I give him an albuterol nebulizer treatment, which usually helps. I would definately take him to an allergist. They can help you with different options. As far as the barium swallow, my daughter has had acid reflux since she was born and had one when she was four months old. They gave her the barium in a bottle. I don't know how they do it for toddlers. I am sure it won't be easy, but you need to find out exactly what is going on. It is hard because they can't tell you what is wrong at this age. Stay strong and take one day at a time. I am on my way to the doctor's today because my son has another sinus infection as well. Hopefully they will grow out of this. Hope this helped.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

You have received wonderful advice from the other moms. I have also lived through this with my children and actually determined through them that I have had undiagnosed asthma most of my life!

See an allergy and asthma specialist. This person could be just that or an ENT who has branched into allergies and asthma because it affect the ENT systems so much. Our ENT has been wonderful at helping us determine what the triggers are be they allergies, exercise; viruses and colds; or environmental changes (molds, dust, seasons). A pulmonologist can be very helpful as well. When my daughter was little we had a team. We were able to manage my son with an allergist. It depends on the child.
As one mom said acid reflux can get into the lungs, etc. The ENT says that for young children it is better to raise the feet of the top of the bed 4 inches so they are elevated than to use meds. This also helps when they have post-nasal drip, etc. and is such a simple solution.
Once you determine the causes, life will get better. Hang in there. .

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Hi A.
I have 4 children and three of them are asthmatic. My girls were very ill when they were as young as your son, and now they are teenagers and seem to have outgrown all of that coughing and sickness. My youngest son, however, is only 6 yrs old. He really doe not wheeze, but has that horrible incessant coughing which is so much worse at night. When he gets the slightest little cold/upper respitatory infection, he coughs uncontrollably until he vomits. He also spits out a lot of clear mucas when the vomitting starts. Don't know if your little guy does that? We seem to go round and round with the pediatrician here in York, PA. Each one we see in our practice has different opinions on whether he has asthma or not! I am contemplating taking him to an asthma/allergy specialist now that our health insurance has changed. We do have a nebulizer at home, and we use albuteral in that. He also has Flovent inhaler and he takes zyrtec. No one has ever suggested the barium swallow/Upper GI for any of my kids. The more I read about this subject...I see that pediatricians are calling everything to do with the coughing "acid reflux". Now, on a personal note? I have horrible acid reflux and have for 15 years. I can not go a single day without prescription meds. But, I have NEVER coughed like my child does...and suffered with coughing like he does due to acid reflux. Basically, I'm not buying into that as a diagnosis for the coughing. I hope you can get some relief for your son, it is so frustrating when you can't get him any relief, and you know he is not getting proper rest from being so ill, and you certainly are not getting any sleep either! I feel for you! I would definitely look into taking him to an asthma/allergy specialist asap to see what they have to say, and the ENT is another good idea. Hang in there, and stay persistant! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I can relate very well to the lack of sleep. My daughter would cough so much at night that she would puke, then go right back to sleep. Very scary! She was diagnosed at 3 years
don't be alarmed by the steriods. now, at the age of 16, she still has to take them a few times of year when she is in a flare.
Keep the singulair - it is a wonder drug. suggest that the dr add another allerg med - we went with Zrytec until it bacame over the counter - xyzol isn't bad, but didn't work as weel for her.
Believe it or not - running the humidifer and vapror steam is the worse thing you can do - it increases the mold contenct in the rooms. No fish tanks or hamster,bird cages eitehr - all mold, dust mites. Stuffed animals also have the mites. It seems worse at night, (for her it did), but to build up their tiny bodies, take the singulair every day - it was here wonder drug. Before she started that one she couldn't play soccer more than 2 minutes. now she can walk for miles without getting winded and yes she still takes the singulair. We tried getting off it last summer - but all of her symptons came right back - not worth another ER trip.
99% of kids with athma have allergies and both need to be treated. I never associated coughing with asthma, but know now that it is usually the first sign. Do you have a nebulizer? You can use an inahled steriod (pulimocort)along with the albuterol. Did the dr. give you the airochamber or the inspireze chamber? Inspireze is much better, at the kids get ALL the medicine when using the inhaler 75% of kids use an inhaler wrong. they aren't getting the right amount of medicine because they were never showed the right was to use the puffer. With inspirese it is always right! at at 2 1/2 even he could do it!
Now we just have to deal with the anxiety of the attacks when she can't breathe - people tell her to breathe -- she would if she could1 Then she ends up into a full fledged anxiety attach to boot!
If you need any other pointers - ben there - did that whenit comes to asthma - feel free to contact me directly.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
When I read your story I thought "This is my life" My daughter does the same thing. She was treated for everything under the sun for about 6 months. Her dr. finally suggested an allergist. They did allergy testing & found she was allergic to peanut butter, animal dander & seasonal allergies. She has a regimen of Singulair, Nazonex & Zyrtec. At the time she was 18 months. She is now 5 1/2 and she still does get coughing fits at night but know we know enough how to adjust her meds now. We do take her off some of hers meds through the winter when she's better & then start them up before Spring starts (her trigger seasons are Spring & Fall)
If you have more questions feel free to email me.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
I personally had issues with chronic sinus infections and a horrible time with drainage and coughing. I especially would cough at night from the drainage.I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist. He was able to put me on allergy pills plus I was able to find out what exactly I was allergic to, which has helped me to stay clear (as much as possible) away from things that really set my allergies off. I was also able to get information from my docotor on what things to change in my lifestyle to alleviate the allergies. It's the simplest things in everyday life that set me off. I recommend an ear, nose and throat specialist. It's amazing what you can find out. Things you never think of.

1 mom found this helpful

Have any of the doctors considered croup? My son (age 4 1/2) gets croup a few times a year, supposedly brought about by viral infections. Just as you said - no symptoms other than a cough. Antibiotics don't clear it up. Chest xrays come back clear. No fluid in the lungs. The inhaler prescribed by his allergist doesn't relieve the cough. My son's cough is typically worse at night and can vary between a dry cough and a wet cough, though usually it is more dry. He doesn't cough for 40 minutes at a time, however, and he usually doesn't even truly wake up from his sleep. There are a few things that seem to relieve his cough a bit....While steam is supposed to help, I was also advised to try cool air - open the freezer and let him take a few breaths of the cool air or bundle him up and take him outside for a few minutes before bed. Raising the head of his bed (we put a phone book under the mattress at the head of his bed) seems to help as well. We also give him a sippy cup of water to take to bed. He says being able to take a drink makes him feel better. His cough has lasted anywhere from 3 weeks to 10 weeks. It is very frustrating. Just something to ask your doctors about if they haven't discussed this with you. BTW, we've never had a berrium and x-ray so I can't comment about that. Good luck to you! I hope you get an answer and a remedy soon.

1 mom found this helpful

Hope...My son went through what sounds like something very similar for years. He is now six, on singulair daily but otherwise healthy as on OX. He was in the 0-10/% weight for years too and is now 90%. I will spare you the details because you are living it...but the same main 'cough' issue that went on for '3'+ years (9mo.-4yr+). We did it all GI Specialist (Berrium/XRAY), Allergist, Pulminologis/CHOP and eventually a 'NOSE/EAR/Throat CHOP...who answered our prayers.

Here was the ultimate diagnosis/cause for us, which may not be the case for your son as I am not a doctor...BUT, he did in fact have reflux while he was young which if doesn't come up/out mouth can go back down and into either the lungs, ears, throat, chest...causing different symptoms for different children. For us, chronic cough..ear infections, sinus infections. We would/could clear one set of symptoms but not all (mainly the persistent cough). He was on prilosec until age '3' along with 'Flovent' low dose steroid (avoid if possible)which did help some but not enough. At age, 5 (and a mommy on anti-depressants due to lack of sleep) we went to see the Nose, Ear, Throat (CHOP) who checked our sons 'Adnoids' which were in fact extremely swollen. He did in fact put him on long-term singulair (for possible indoor/outdoor allergies), removed his 'Adnoid's, put in a 2nd set of tubes in ears (just in case) and our son has been healthy since. (Almost '2' years). He gets sick like all kids but is no longer coughing every night and sick 3 weeks out of 4 each month. Bottom line: Anything (reflux, asthma or allergies) can inflame your child's assophogus (I think that's the correct term) causing a chronic cough,especially when lying down. Initially the reflux, then swollen 'Adnoid's' and nasal drip(drip back down throat-not out nose, rarely had signs of outward nose stuff) caused his cough. Removal of cause, can hopefully remove the cough. SO...you have to find the cause. Not easy but worth it. Hang in there. Call me if you want and I'll give you the name's of any specialists, particularly the nose/ear/throat guy. Best of luck.

C. Bates ###-###-####

1 mom found this helpful

this sounds exactly like my life. i had mild asthma for which i did not need daily treatment until after i had children, which apparently exacerbated my asthma. your story sounds like my ever spring and fall when my asthma, despite allergy shots and up to 13 different medications, goes completely haywire. i also had a sinus cat scan and did the barium swallow to no avail. i find that every virus triggers my asthma to flare, and the cough lasts me up to 8 weeks, during which i can't even sleep laying down. sadly i find myslef having to return to the steroids when nothing else works. my nebulizer does help with symptoms, but doesn't seem to shorten the flare up.

all i can say is hang in there. you will likely have to try a variety of controller meds. deinitely find an asthma doctor- i see the nice folks at the asthma center- they have serveral area locations in nj and pa.

many people find that a dairy free diet helps with asthma. you can always try that route.

good luck.

I would make sure that you see a pediatric allergist. I learned from going through this with my son that coughing is asthma. He was correctly diagnosed and began treatments for ashtma and is now a healthy 26 year old.

A., all the other responses are very good. I personally went through the same thing with different results. My son who is currently 9 y/o was always sick with the same symptoms you describe. He got diagnosed with croup, bronchitis, RSV pneumonia,allergies,etc. We removed our carpet which was jute back and highly allergenic. After 4 yrs I had enough of the back and forth and took him to an eye nose throat specialist. His tonsils and adenoids were remo. The ENT told us his tonsils were so enlarged that he could only slip a piece of paper between them. His adenoid was so enlarged it was blocking his trachea (windpipe) at night. Needless to say, ALL symptoms have never reappeared. He may get a cold here and there, but nothing like the continuous sickness like when he was younger. I often question how his T& A could have been that enlarged and not one other doctor picked up on it. Then again, I am aRN and I didn't either. Please take your son to an ENT. If heis cleared there then check the allergist. Good luck. My prayers are with you.

A. ~

I was going to make the same suggestion as Lisa T. Both of my boys have suffered with bouts of coughing (the dreaded croop) lasting any where from 2 weeks to 2 months. And the coughing will eventually lead to vomitting. I know it's gross, but by looking at the vomit, i could see that it was mostly mucus. So the first thing i do is cut back on the milk and dairy products and i do the cool air treatments. A few minutes in the middle of the night and they sleep soundly until morning. I also turn down the temperature in their rooms a couple of degrees.

Hope you get some sleep soon. ~ M.

I was shocked that they want to do all of those tests and that your doctor has him on an antiacid - that can interfer with absorption of nutients.
Please look for some natural - complimentary medicine to help.
This sounds crazy - but alfalfa tablets helped me with seasonal allergies.
Have you tried saline spray to clean out his sinus cavities?
Have you tried eliminating a food group to see if it is a food allegry?
I hope you get some advice from others that have gone this route.
I'll keep you in my prayers. Please let us know what happens.
PS Retired teacher!!

Oh my goodness! Sounds like a really tough situation. Has he been checked for pnuemonia? coughing that leads to vommitting is often a sign.

Have you taken him to an asthma and allergy specialist? Has he had prick or rast testing? He is a bit young but if it's an allergy it will show up. Sounds rather seasonal so testing for things that grow, dust mites, and probably molds would be a good idea.

Good luck,

Our family physician finds the CAUSE of her patients symptoms rather than treating the symptoms, her name is Elaine Hardy, RN, MSN, APN, C and her website is www.holisticfamilyhealthcarepc.com. She doesn't have to be a primary care but can be your specialist. She does an extensive history of illnesses and medications your child has been on and has some specialty testing too. She does food allergy testing (which was the cause of my 3 yr olds chronic bronchitis, she has an allergy to whey in milk!!) She is unbelievable and caters to children. At least check out her website, she does the initial visit in office and does phone and email follow ups if you are not nearby!! I highly recommend her!!! Good luck to you!

i have read everyone's posts and have nothing really new to add except that they would diagnose enflamed adenoids and sinusitus wiht an X-Ray. i have a 2 year old that has had 2 different sets of x-rays - my advice is to make sure you go to an excellent pediatric x-ray lab. children's hospital of pittsburgh made the experience very easy :)

We did go through something similiar with our son who is now 28 months and we found the nebulizer treatments to work the best during flares. All other days he is on singulair, zyrtec, and an inhaler. Good Luck - I know how sad it can make you.. let me know if you would like an allergist referrel b/c ours is great!

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