30 answers

Son with Asthma Has Persistent Croup Sounding Cough?

My son is 3 1/2 and was recently diagnosed with asthma and allergies (outdoor pollens). I have noticed over the past year whenever he comes down with a cold, it is accompanied by a "croup" sounding cough that lasts for a few days. I am thinking this croup sound I hear is due to his asthma. Does anyone else have kids with coughs that sound like croup? He is currently taking Zyrtec which has managed his runny nose, but not his cough. The doctor recently prescribed Singulair for his asthma, but I don't like what I am reading about the side effects associated with this medication. I would love any comments regarding this croup sound or Singulair.

What can I do next?

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I would suggest taking a good look at his diet and try to strengthen and support his immune system with food and nutritional supplements. These things can have a huge impact on overall health. Let me know if I can help you with more specific recommendations.

1 mom found this helpful

My son was diagnosed with asthma at age 2 - he had the croupy cough that you're talking about. We found a great allergist who I trust. He ended up needing to go on an oral steroid for a couple of months (which I was not happy about, but did it anyway). I'm so glad that I did. It helped his lungs get stronger, and now he rarely has asthma issues. We also have learned what triggers his asthma (fresh paint and construction), so we stay away from it as much as we can. Hope this helps.

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I would suggest taking a good look at his diet and try to strengthen and support his immune system with food and nutritional supplements. These things can have a huge impact on overall health. Let me know if I can help you with more specific recommendations.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi B.,
My son was diagnosed with asthma at 8 months and has been on flovent twice a day since then. We have always been bothered by the constant need for medication, but when we have tried to ween him off before he would always end up hospitalized, put on prednizone/albuterol and a nebulizer.
Recently, however I've gotten a great surge of hope from The Body Ecology Diet which was developed for people who have an overgrowth of yeast (candida) in their systems. I would suggest going to the site and taking the candida quiz both for yourself and your son. www.bodyecology.com
We have been on the diet for 3 months now and have seen great changes in Ben. So much so in fact, that we have started to ween him off of the flovent just this week. Also to supplement and make the transition smoother, we have started going to sessions at Galos Caves (info below), which is recommended for children and adults with upper respiratory issues. We've done two sessions so far. They have family packages and kids under 4 are free. Also they have a space in the cave that is sort of a sand box with toys for kids to play with during the session. We love it.
Also, I would recommend maybe getting a salt pipe for your son. I'm planning on getting one for Ben in the next few weeks. You can order one from www.solaywellness.com. I used to work for Isabella and her products are awesome.
I hope all that helps. If you're up for trying the diet please feel free to contact me off this list for more info. and support. :)
picassoscat400@ yahoo dot com

6501 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60634

1 mom found this helpful

Both of my daughters had this same problem(2 1/2 and 4).We tried all the meds the docs gave us. It didn't stop the symptoms. They were miserable and sicker than ever after monthes of trying. Go to Mertz, the natural pharmecy on Lincoln, in Lincoln Square Chicago. Tell the "pharmacist" your symptoms. They gave us many suggestions and all worked! They are not easy, but they managed my daughters allergies, and poor health. We went off dairy during the very sick periods, cut down on sugar, and took the hoeopathic remedies they suggested. Yes, it was work, but being sick was much more work. We are one year later, in the midst of allery season, and in great shwpe. I go to Mertz now everytime we have a problem. With that said, shortness of breath and cough is nothing t o treat lightly. Take the docs meds now , and continue to see the doc to keep it under control and visit Mertz when the cough is handled.


My son is now 6 but from the time he was born he had asthma. When he was 2 they put him on Singulair and it did wonders for him. But yes when he did have a cold he did have a croup sounding cough, and really there was nothing I could do for him. I did put a viper riser in his room with him and it seemed to him help him. Because of asthma you can not put viper rub on his chest and when your little one is sick it is hard not to try everything for them, but with asthma you have to watch.Good luck.

Hi B.,

My son is on Singulair and Zyrtec/ pulmicort, and xopenex inhalers, since he was 18 mos. I fear the long term effects, but 3 different pediatricians ASSURE me this is the way to go. Sometimes the allergist and your ped. can work together to find what is the "absolute best," for your precious child.

God Bless.

The next time your son has a croupy cough take him to see the doctor. They will be able to tell you if it is croup or not. My daughter who is 18 years old still gets croup bad enough that she needs steriods to open her airway and they said she would out grow it by 5. When she was younger we spent many nights in the emergency room with her and she does not have asthma. I get that croupy sounding cough every time I get a cold but it is not croup and I do have asthma. Of course the older I get the worse the asthma gets. I would talk to a doctor. If it is croup it can become serious very quickly.

Do you feel confident in your dr.'s (Pediatrician?) ability to treat your son who has asthma or has your Dr. referred you to an Allergist or Pulmonologist? I have asthma and I have been controlling it for over 15 years. An asthmatic cough can have a bronchial (deep) sound to it, croupy probably is a good description. Once the allergy/asthma is controlled, eventually the cough may dissipate - if it is related to a cold/upper respiratory infection, it may take a little longer. Do you have a nebulizer (i.e. small machine that is used to breathe in to and administers Albuterol - a medication that helps open up the bronchials so that your child can breathe better). He can use this in the early days when he gets a cold so he doesn't get worse. If he has been diagnosed with Asthma, I am surprised that your Dr. has not suggested this. It's covered by insurance and you need a prescription to obtain one. It would also behoove you to get your child allergy-tested. You could have allergies in your home that are aggravating his condition. By being proactive, you can help limit the amount of medication that your child may/will have to take. Zyrtec is a good medication - may make him a little tired. Claritin is also good. Singulair is very good for allergies - as an adult, I do not notice any side effects except, I have had a pretty easy Ragweed season and can't say the same about the others around me. You take it regularly and can wean off, seasonally. It doesn't work the same way as a Claritin or Zyrtec, which can be taken daily or just stopped. However, if it were my child, before you start with different medications, I still would make an appointment to an Allergist. Keep in mind that an Allergist and Pulmonologist sometimes agree/sometimes disagree on the path to take to get better. (As my Pulmonologist said...."The Allergist and I...We're both like Fine Chefs....the outcome may be very good but we may take a little different path to get there!" You may end up, eventually seeing a Pulmonologist, too. If your son was diagnosed w/ a Ragweed allergy, the first big frost is coming and will end that complaint for this season. However, do you know what "outdoor pollens it is that he is allergic to?..grasses (Spring), trees (Spring/early Summer), Ragweed (Late Summer/Fall)....and in between there - mold from the rains or snow melting. An Allergist would be a good route to take, if you haven't already. Best of luck to you!

My son is also 3 1/2 and has asthma, but no allergies. His asthma is triggered by colds...when he gets even a little runny nose he starts coughing. (a "croup" sounding cough) We take him to the pediatrician and he can hear the wheezing in his lungs. (We can't hear the wheezing, only the coughing.) He is taking Flovent twice per day everyday to try and keep the asthma under control. When he begins coughing, we use Albuterol or Xopenex (sp?)in a nebulizer to help open up his airways. At first I thought the pediatrician was overreacting by having us bring him in any time he developed a cough, but it's really important for the doctor to be able to assess the cough and breathing so the asthma is managed. From what I understand, the side effects of the medications are not as adverse as the effect of having asthma that is not under control. (We were also worried about the possible side effects of the different meds.) Good luck.


My oldest son, now 10, was diagnosed with horrible allergies accompanied by wheezing.(age of 6) Fast forward 3.5 years later and many upper resp. infection and chronic sinus infections it turned out he had a sinus blockage.
What we found helped with the barking cough when he did have an upper resp infection was either warm steam or cold air. Both will natural reduce inflamation in the airways. Most obviously, monitor closely and if it is not helping or getting worse, seek medical attention immediately and never discontinue medication without discussing it with his Dr. Just a thought to try that is non steroidal. Maybe could even be used in association with meds to further relieve his symptoms.

Hi B.!
My daughter was diagnosed w/ allergies & asthma (at that time restricted airways) when she around 7 or 8 months. She is now 4, the dr. had put her on all kinds of different meds, at one point not too long ago singulair. She did have ill effect of singulair, (emotional issues, crankiness, unexplained crying, etc.) so we took her off of it. She had been taking zyrtec along w/ the singulair...and now just takes the zyrtec.

You are probably right about the cough that sounds like croup being from the asthma, that is how my daughter would sound also, (not everytime but sometimes) when she had any kind of a cough we did breathing treatments, with albutorol and pulmicort. That in time always helped open up her air passages, and helped w/ the coughing.

The trick is getting your child on the correct medications, which can sometimes be tricky. I would guess as with my daughter his allergies may be triggering the asthma, I hope that you can find relief for your little guy, it can be very frustrating. I am sure you are aware that asthma is a VERY serious thing, and not to be taken lightly. Hope you guys can get it under control soon! If you want to talk, or have any other questions that I might be able to help w/ don't hesitate to contact me. :)

My almost 3 year old daughter was diagnosed in March with Asthma. That croup cough is an asthma reaction, and you need to get medical attention before it gets worse. My daughter is on Singulair and Flovent, and while the side effects may sound scary, I have yet to see any with my daughter. What is worse is the asthma getting out of control. Every time our doctor has recommended reducing the medications her asthma has gotten much worse, constant croup coughing (we call it a "bark") that lands us in the emergency room with far more medications than you can imagine. First, contact your doctor. Take your son in. With close monitoring any side effects will be noticed. I keep a log- when the coughing happens, how often, whether it is followed by a cold, etc. Zyrtec is for allergies, and for a while the doctor put my daughter on it. It didn't help, and she ended up in the immediate care center. We had allergy test and she came up negative for everything. We now see an allergy/asthma specialist every 3-6 months. Singulair maintains the airways open for asthma that is not allergy caused, so your son might need to take this and/ or Flovent to keep his airways open. Asthma means he has trouble breathing, and I personally think the fear of my daughter not being able to breathe is far worse than the potential side effects.

Good Luck!

My son was diagnosed with asthma at 21 months old. His asthma is triggered by colds and always turns into coughting - continually coughing - it's difficult to listen to after awhile. I can tell you that your son needs to be monitored very closely when he begins coughing like this as it can turn into wheezing and eventually his lungs may begin to close altogether. This happened to my son - and we were admitted to the hospital with him labeled as intensive care. Consider taking him to an asthma/allergy specialist. They are going to be the most proactive with a treatment plan that will work for you and him. I can provided you with my doctor's name if you are so interested.

My son takes Flovent twice per day and Singulair everyday to keep the asthma under control. When he begins coughing (even slightly), we use Albuterol in a nebulizer to help open up his airways. It has worked very well for us in keeping his wheezing under control. You'll find the nebulizer is the best type of "cough medicine" you can do for your asthmatic son. By the way, no cough medicine for asthma kids.

Good luck to you and your son.

Ask your doctor about reactive airway disease. My 20-year-old has had it all her life. Every time she got a cold, she would have a horrible asthma-like cough that lasted for days. She was on two inhalers at times -- one steroidal. There are side effects for all of the inhalers, but breathing sometimes trumps the side effects. She would be on her inhalers for maybe a week to keep her airways open so she could breathe freely. If the airways were constricted that would cause the cough.

My daughter has asthma and gets this type of cough seasonally as well. She takes Zyrtec year round. She is not on Singulair but takes pulmicort respules when she gets the cough (it is an inhaled corticosteroid). You will need a nebulizer to asminister (a machine that makes a mist your child breathes in). My daughter only needs to use it a couple times a year for a few weeks (it actually prevents the cough too in the spring or fall when we have flair ups). Don't be worried by the steroid component as it is inhaled and not systemic. It affects the lungs but does not have any serious systemic side effects that we have encountered. Talk to your pediatrician. I know several other children on this regimen.

Unfortunately he needs to cough to eliminate the phlem...it is very important that he spit out that phlem. The stomach can't digest it and the cough stays longer. Vaporizer helps a great deal also.

Hi B.,

My son is 3 1/2 and has had a bronchital infection and RSV. He too would have that "croup" sounding cough whenever he got sick with a cold. I described it as a dry, barking-type cough...and it was worse at night. His doctor prescribed a nebulizer and Xopenex treatments. I bought the nebulizer from Walgreens. I had a tough time getting my insurance company to reimburse me for it...but if you have insurance, it should definitely be covered. The Xopenex is poured into the small nebulizer cup and he inhales the solution. We'd do it every 4 to 6 hours. It definitely helped. When we first took him to the doctor, of course his symptoms were bad, so she also prescribed Prednisolone, it's a steroidal medicine to treat allergies and asmthma conditions. So in the beginning, that medicine coupled with the Xopenx cleared him up. Fast forward to present day he's been great. We gave him the flu shot for the first time last year and he was great. If he does start to get a cold and starts to cough, the cough is nothing near that "croup" sound. We still have vials of the Xopenex so we'll give him one breathing treatment to help keep the cough at bay...but that is seldom. Good luck and hope your son get well.

Hi B.,

My 3 1/2 year old daughter has had the same thing, almost her whole life. At age 3 months she had RSV, and since then she has never caught a cold without getting the croup cough. She has also had pneumonia twice. On the advice of another mom, I took her to see a pediatric pulmonologist last year through Childrens at CDH. They were great, and gave us a plan to follow. She uses a medicine called Pulmicort through a nebulizer to prevent the cough, and one called Xopenex if the cough is present. We start it as soon as she gets a sniffle, and it really helps! The doctor explained that even though people worry about the meds, when they are inhaled they do not enter the bloodstream. Before we met with this doctor, we were frustrated because our pediatritian never had a good solution for us (which is why her colds went all the way to pneumonia twice!) We spent many nights sitting up running steamy showers for her to breathe. I feel like now, we have a plan that keeps it under control. The good news is that kids usually outgrow this! Good luck!


I agree with what others are saying: the cough is most likely related to the asthma. My daughter was diagnosed with asthma at 2 and is now 6. She was on Singular and had major behavior issues while on it. In addition, it has aspertame in it which is NOT good for kids. We found an outstanding pediatric pulmonologist at Lutheran General. He took her off the Singular saying it has no real effect on asthma. As I mentioned she is now 6 and is virtually free of all asthma systems.

We have used an approach of knowing her environmental and food sensitivities as well as homeopothy. Our pulmonologist has supported this approach as well. I would be happy to share names of doctors with you. Feel free to email me directly.


My son came down with a persistent croupy cough a couple years ago (he was 2 at the time). The doctor diagnosed him with Reactive Airway Disease, later upgraded to Asthma. He was put on Flovent and this ceased his croupy cough and lessened the problems he had when getting colds.

I was concerned about the Flovent at first as it's a steroid but his doctor assured me he was getting less steroids in a year from a daily does of the Flovent than from the 5 day steroids he needed everytime he developed the croupy cough.

So far so good. Ask your doctor about it.

Good luck.

Hi B.,

We got a nebulizer for my son when he was a baby. The doctor prescribed it and the insurance company paid for it. When he gets a cold really bad, it triggers really bad coughing attacks where it sounds like croup, too. The nebulizer treatments help break up the mucuous (sp.) and it's something I can use on him every 4 hrs. The medicine that gets added to the nebulizer is called albuterol (sp?). (You need a doctor's prescription) It's like a little cool steam machine. This has really help my son. The last time he had a cough so bad, it was accompanied by strep. So... sometimes, of course, the nebulizer will not be the only treatment used. I still use the nebulizer from time to time on him and he is almost 7 yrs. old.

I hope this helps some.

My son had RSV when he was a baby and usually coughs and wheezes when he gets a cold. He seems to have some seasonal allergies as well. I think medicine can be great, but I do feel it is prescribed too often and am thankful to have a pediatrician who will send me away without a prescription if she doesn't think the kids need it. So, I usually don't take my kids to the doctor until I have let the normal time for a virus pass (7-10 days) however, with my son's history, I usually take him in pretty quickly or have my sister in law who is a nurse practitioner take a listen to make sure he is not wheezing. If he is wheezing, the Dr wants me to give him Albuterol through the nebulizer. When he was wheezing more regularly and getting sick more frequently, I was giving him Pulmicort for prevention. My doctors as well as my sister in law have been hesitant to diagnose him with Asthma, apparently, some kids have Asthmatic tendencies but grow out of it by the time they are about 6yr. I would seek a second opinion or advice from a specialist.

I have the same problem with my 5 yo and have had since he was born. I finally found a doctor who diagnosed him with reactive airway disease. He uses Xopenex in a breathing machine. It really helps. He was also put on Singulair. He developed these horrible temper tantrums and would hit me. I heard about the side effects of Singulair and immediately took him off. Within 2 or 3 days, he quit hitting and temper tantrums turned into whining instead. I also have a friend who took her son off the Singulair and noticed big (positive) results in his behavior. If you decide to use the Singulair, monitor your child. It does not cause problems for everyone and it does work. Unfortunately for us, my child was one that it seemed to cause problems with.

Because your son is so young, you truly want to limit his perscription medications. As with all medications, if taken for a significant amount of time, the body becomes immune. My advice would be to focus on his nutritional intake. The more whole food he recieves, the more balanced his immune system will become and change in his symptoms will occur. Many families also consider pediatric chiropractors and have been very happy with the results. Anything you can do for your son naturally without additional medication is something many parents are searching for, wouldn't you agree?
In good health,
N.-Nurtition Naturally


If you are not comfortable with the singulair discuss the medication with your child's MD. Perhaps there is an alternative he can prescribe instead. As a medical professional and also 30yr. asthmatic; I know it is best to discuss the medication concern first with the prescriber of the medication. Another great resource that people often overlook is talking to the pharmacist.

My son is 12 and developed a croop sounding cough and after going to pulmonary specialists and telling me he has asthma which he doesn't I took him to an ENT (ear, nose , throat) at Childrens Memorial Hospital on Lincoln avenune and he said he had acid reflux. When I said my son had no symptons and it couldn't be acid reflux he said there is a silent kind and it is the worst because your esauphogus has damage and you don't realize it. He put him on prevacid for 3 months and he is much better and no croop cough. Don't know if this info is relevant to your case but the bottom line is keep taking your child to doctors until you are satisfied.

My eight year old has had asthma with colds since he was a baby. Our best success has been to start him on pulmicort either via neubulizer when he was young or via an inhaler now as soon as he started a cold. Doctors have wanted us to have him on pulmicort daily during the cold season but I wanted to limit how much of medication he would need. As long as I am able to control his asthma doctors agreed to it. We rarely use albuterol. I think we have to be careful of what medications we give to our children and monitor when it is necessary but with asthma we cannot skip medication usage. Like another post stated, breathing is essential. Good luck!

Hi B.~

My Daughter was diagnosed with asthma & year round allergies at the age of 4 1/2. She also was given Zyrtec, but it made her worse. We did stop using that product. At that point I didn't think giving my child meds that had side affects was healthy for her so I did a little research and came upon a natural alternative.

I also realized that once I took out the harmful chemicals out of our house (that where in the cleaning products that we use to clean with)....the allergy symptoms went away & she was not have asthma attacks....they did disappear.

When doing my research I found that there had been Studies shown that indoor air is more pollutant than outdoor air! Also, I found studies that showed that household chemicals & cleaning agents have been linked to cancer and other diseases! Well that in itself was alarming to me!! So we did find a solution to my childs health concerns!

If you would like to talk further about this, please email: ____@____.com

J. T.

My son was diagnosed with asthma at age 2 - he had the croupy cough that you're talking about. We found a great allergist who I trust. He ended up needing to go on an oral steroid for a couple of months (which I was not happy about, but did it anyway). I'm so glad that I did. It helped his lungs get stronger, and now he rarely has asthma issues. We also have learned what triggers his asthma (fresh paint and construction), so we stay away from it as much as we can. Hope this helps.

Are you going to a pediatric pulmonologist? If not, I'd highly recommend it.

For times when he is getting sick, or his asthma is really kicking into high gear, you may want to consider using a home nebulizer. Ask your doctor about this. Nebulizers treate the asthma directly.

The Zyrtec works as kind of a preventative measure, trying to head off the allergies before they have a chance to kick the asthma up a notch. Or trying to keep them at bay so the asthma doesn't worsen. It's not directly addressing the asthma, other than to reduce the things that can worsen the asthma. It is not a cough med or an asthma med. It's meant to affect the asthma triggers. If he's coughing that badly, he may need to have meds that address his asthma directly, like an inhaler or a nebulizer, or something of that nature. (Yes, you can use an inhaler on a toddler - they have products that can help make that a less awkward procedure.)

Cold and allergies can trigger bad asthma reactions. A simple cold can rapidly develop into bronchitis or pneumonia in someone with asthma. Colds hit them hard and fast. If he is coughing that severely, you may need a more effective treatment. Be sure to thoroughly discuss all your concerns with your doctor. Make sure he is seen by a medical professional when that bad cough is happening.

I have a son that has allergies and asthma. You might want to take your son to a allergy doctor or one that specializes in asthma. 3 1/2 they can still grow out of things. the cough is usually do to the drainage running down his throat and into his chest. But a cough also can come from his windpipes in his chest not getting the air he needs from his asthma. so now you have to get educated if he is whizzing so you know if it is his asthma. we run our air conditioner late into the season and we are one of the first ones to turn it on in the spring even if it is not to hot because it filters the air and they can breathe better. check these things out a diagnois of asthma on his record will cost more insurance also

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