19 answers

Milk Allergy - Coughing at Night

I switched my son over to whole milk in November when he turned 1. He was on Soy Formula and we had to switch over slowly to make sure he was not allergic. He ended up with no issues in the beginning but since I can recall he has been coughing at night every since we switched him to Milk. He had a cold in the beginning so I never associated it with milk but he now has been coughing every night for over a month and wakes himself up everynight. On Sunday he went to bed around 6:30 and woke up coughing around 9:30 and ended up throwing up milk all over. He threw up one more time but it was more watery and I stopped giving him milk that night. He did not have milk yesterday or today and he coughed a little bit last night but not bad at all. Just seeing if anyone has dealt with anything like this. I called the doctor and the nurse said it sounds like his cough may be lingering. I am gonna take him in so i can get a piece of mind.

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So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the advice from everyone. I took my son to the doctor on Friday and his lungs are clear, no fever but he had a really bad ear infection in his left ear. He has not acted like he's had an ear infection and he had one in this ear about 3 months ago and it cleared up but the doctor said that it may be the start of a new one or one that hasn't quite cleared up yet. And he had a lot of post nausal drip. So right now he is on medicine plus I started to give him some mucinex and it seems like that is helping. He is still coughing but it sounds more like a flemmy cough when they start to clear up. So I am taking him back in a couple weeks and i started back on the milk. not sure really if the ear infection and just little colds going back and fourth from November has just been there or what. I may try soy milk just to see if that makes a different. I don't know anymore. Just waiting to this ear thing clears up and see what happens.

Featured Answers

Try soy or goat milk for a while and see if it makes a difference. If not, it could be a winter cold plus the nasty stomach bug that's been going around since Thanksgiving. Could be the dry air - get a humidifier in his room ASAP. Could be a wheat allergy (this means cutting out A LOT of foods so go to this possibility as a last resort).
Hope he's feeling better soon!

More Answers

Hi L. -

My son has had this same problem on and off for many months. He was coughing terribly at night and then would end up throwing up all over his crib. Our pediatrician finally diagnosed him with asthma. It always seems to be triggered by a cold and then the coughing would linger and linger. She said that the coughing and vomitting at night are classic asthma symptoms. She put him on an antibiotic (zythromax) and gave us an inhaler to use for him and he has been doing great!!! No more coughing at night! (We also thought it was a dairy allergy at first).


If he is only coughing at night then it is NOT a milk allergy. If your child had a milk allergy symptoms would be present throughout the day. Also, milk allergy is very different than intolerance. Allergies can be fatal! I know this because my daughter is severely allergic to dairy and egg. Allergy symptoms however can increase over time if it is a true allergy. My daughter (18 months old) is currently getting over a cough she got around Christmas from her cousin. She too has coughed her way through several nights and a few times gagged on the phlem and threw up. Kinda gross but it does happen. I would suggest avoiding milk until the cold clears up as milk has a tendency to create more phlem. When you start milk again I would keep an eye on his reactions (hives, eczema, vomiting). If you are concerned ask your son's ped for a referral to an allergist. My daughter is on organic rice milk and actually likes it alot so that could be an option too for you.
Hope this helps :)

I agree with many of the posters above but I would add that it is not necessarily true that if it is an allergy, the symptoms would be present during the day. My kids had a lot more trouble with congestion due to allergies at night. It's for the same reason that a cold seems worse at night, for adults or kids - when you're lying down it's harder for your system to drain away mucus and fluid.


Milk does encourage mucas to continue producing, which obviously causes coughing. I always have my daughter drink plenty of water after she is done with her milk for the day to rinse it down.

Another thing to consider is allergys, not necessarily to milk. I give my daughter one loratine (SP) (generic claritin) a day, and that stops all symptoms, including coughing at night.

good luck!


coughing at night may be a sign of gastroesphageal reflux, especially if it is chronic (over 4 weeks). A typical cold/cough may last 2-3 weeks. A common sign of food intolerance or allergy is reflux. Hives or rash may be present, but not always the case. Sometimes it may be difficult to prove or test for the allergy (skin testing). So elimatinating the food for 2 weeks and monitoring the response may be the best way you can sort this issue out.

If you toddler had problems in the past as an infant, such as colic, eczema, GERD, or there is a family history of allergy, asthma, or eczema, your toddler is definatley at risk for food allergies or intolerance. Milk allergy is common.

You may try rice milk or soy milk as a substitute in the meantime.

Sarah S (mother of two allergic children)

Milk produces mucus. This could be why. So many parrents are quick to use milk, as I was, but in both my girls they couldn't tolerate it till they got closer to 2. I was nursing them. Try soy milk, or no milk at all.... water is great for them. Soy can produce allergies too, so beware.

Could be reflux, allergies, asthma, or combination...or just coincidental and it's a virus. It is possible to have a milk allergy and only respond at night. The milk allergy part can be causing reflux. Is he only getting milk at night? Other symptoms? when the vomiting starts, is it always 2 hrs after? Has it happened more than once? If so, it could be FPIES - Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome to milk (my dd has - to milk). That's a non-ige reaction - so not "typical" allergy sx, but vomiting/diarrhea 2 or so hours after ingestion.

Keep a food log and see what happens w/ foods, reactions, times happening etc.

go to www.kidswithfoodallergies.org - tons of info and you can ask for help and support

look at my previous food allergy posts - there's a lot of info in there too

talk to your dr, but as pp said, not all are up on food allergies, especially Non- IgE reactions. Contact a pediatric allergist - we go to Children's Memorial at the glenview annex. 800-kids-doc

good luck!

Hi. Yes my 2 year old son had a cold/virus in october. 2 weeks after the virus was over he had a dry cough and the frequency in the coughing spells got worse, especially in the cool air or at night. Yet he had no fever. I'm in the medical profession so the first thing I thought was an allergy. I looked up milk allergy in toddlers on the internet and it mentioned that coughing and a running nose could be symptoms. I t also said that a milk allergy can mimick symptoms of asthma. So what I did was give him 1/2 tsp of cold and allergy medicine for children, which has a antihistimine in it(for allergic reaction) and switched from whole milk to 2% Lactaid. and the coughing subsided and the runny nose decreased, still without fever.

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