20 answers

Concerned Parent with a 4 Yr Old That Throws up Only at Night

My 4yr old son, recently got over a bad cough one month ago. However, now, he seems to be perfectly fine during the day, eating, playing, running around etc. However, for the past 3 weeks, about an hr after going to bed he wakes up and throws up. Then after 5 mins of that, he goes back to bed, and is fine again in the morning. I called the Doc and they said, give him Mucus medicine, prop his head on 2 pillows, and put a humidifier in the room (and i add Vicks Vapo steam). Well, the first night he was fine, didn't wake up. But then last night, he was back throwing up. Has anyone experience this, and what can I do about it. I'm at the point, where I want the Doc to run any and all tests, to see if there is something medically wrong, other than a common cold, that he is still getting over.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of all, i thank all you beautiful, concerned moms out there!!! this is a wonderful forum to post questions, and get great feedback. as far as my 4 yr old, throwing up at night. well, i am happy to say, he has not done that in about a month now. i believe there are many factors that went into this situation. first he had a bad cough, that i believe he was still getting over. therefore, the doc suggested mucinex to break up whatever was left in his chest. however, i only gave it to him at night. i also put a humidifier in his room. secondly, as a baby he did have bad acid reflux, and i believe he may still experience that to a certain level. therefore, now, i make sure he doesn't eat or drink anything at least an hr prior to going to bed. i also placed 2 pillows under his head, to prop his head up a little, to allow any drainage that occurs to flow downward, and not upward, or shall i say project-ward!!! and lastly, go to find out, that when he spent the night at grandpa's house, grandpa told him, that whenever he coughs, to go ahead and spit that out... i think, my little man, took that advice to the extreme. so, now, when he starts to cough, i always say "calm down", and that REALLY helps!!!

bless you all, and i hope everyone has a great easter!!!

Featured Answers

Is he coughing, and throwing up because he's gagging? If so, I have the same problem with my3 yr old daughter. I've started her on Zyrtec. She takes it every night, and that seems to really help. I would ask you pediatrician if that's a possibility. Mine says when they cough only at night, that's a sign of drainage, and an allergy problem. Good luck, I know how frustrating that is.

More Answers

You say he developed a cough about a month ago? Does he still have it? Are there any other symptoms such as a fever or rash? It's possible that he may just have acid reflux. On the other hand, as a child I used to get walking pneumonia every year. During the day I seemed fine, but as soon as I'd settle down for the night, the symptoms became much more prominent. They included coughing, a mild fever (101 or less), chills or sweats, and sometimes, I'd throw up. I'd wake from a dead sleep, throw up, and go back to sleep. I'd also occasionally get diarhea and/or develop a mild rash. It sounds awful but antibiotics cleared it up pretty quickly once the doctor figured out what I had.

I wish you and your child well and hope that he's better soon.

I would ask your dr about checking him for some kind of acid reflux problems!

Dear J.,
A lot of people are allergic to the dust mites in our beds. My son used to get congested & throw up because he was choking on the mucus. My oldest brother used to wake up choking about an hour after going to sleep. In both cases, our air purifiers have made the difference. I have a home business offering these air purifiers, since they've made such a difference for us, & so many others. I can bring one over for you to test for a few days to see if it makes a difference for him. It's sure a lot easier & cheaper than running medical tests, & if this is what he needs, it's what will make a difference. Maybe allergies are the reason the cold has hung on so long. Please see www.freshairliving.com/nolawood password is guest, to learn more, or just call me, ###-###-####. Blessings, N.

I would talk to your doctor about acid reflux. My 4 year old has the same problem. She will be fine during the day but at night cough so hard she throws up. Her reflux is especially bad when her allergies are acting up. The doctor put her on Prevacid and this fixed the problem.

I don't want to alarm you, but I saw this on Mystery Diagnosis. The one hour thing even. It started as once a night, and then twice, an hour apart, and then it got worse. Now, they tried everything, mucus meds, reflux meds, and finally a sleep study. IF this cont or gets worse, I would definitely get him into a 2 night sleep study. (Sometimes children will act perfectly fine when they have changed beds the first night.) This child was having nighttime seizures. The biggest key to this, is does he remember? If he doesn't remember it at all, I would suspect seizures, although at his young age, he may not anyway. Don't panic, but a sleep study, if you can afford it, doesn't hurt anybody. Just getting the doc to listen to you may be the tricky part if you need a referral from your ped. Check your insurance. Sometimes you can just call and get the appt yourself, although getting the referral is sometimes quicker.


I know this may sound strange and I don't want to worry you, but it may be worth checking out if the issue persists. On some medical mystery show a few weeks ago they were showing a little girl doing the same thing. She was perfectly fine and then about 1 hour after she went to bed she would throw up and then go right back to sleep and it was like nothing ever happened. If fact, in most cases, she didn't even know it was happening. The parents took her to multiple doctors over many months. Finally, they went to a neruo (sp?) doc who did a sleep test on her. Put a bunch of wires on her head a such while she slept. The little girl did the same thing, threw up about an hour after she went to bed and then went right back to sleep. They found out that she had Epilepsy and her throwing up was from seizures that she was having. The parents had no idea. She was totally fine otherwise. As I recall, it started when she was about 5. They interviewed the little girl and she said she is on medication now and has almost no issues anymore.

I don't want to scare you. It may be nothing except drainage from his cold. But if it will save you from months of worrying about what is going on then you at least have something to talk to your Dr. about.

Keep us updated.

You have gotten some great ideas so far. They are all valid concerns that you should definitely get checked out. The only other option I can think of is asthma. I did the same thing for 25 years until a new doctor figured out i had asthma. I would cough and cough so hard that i would throw up at night. However at 4 I don't think that they actually test for asthma they just treat it.

In any event I would take him to the dr. and if the first one doesn't think that there is anything wrong then go to another one. It's not normal and they need to figure out what is wrong.

Good luck!

Is he coughing, and throwing up because he's gagging? If so, I have the same problem with my3 yr old daughter. I've started her on Zyrtec. She takes it every night, and that seems to really help. I would ask you pediatrician if that's a possibility. Mine says when they cough only at night, that's a sign of drainage, and an allergy problem. Good luck, I know how frustrating that is.

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