Coughing at Bedtime

Updated on June 07, 2011
E.T. asks from Albuquerque, NM
14 answers

One of my four year old daughters has started coughing at bedtime. It started this winter... she caught two colds and coughed a lot, which seemed pretty typical. I gave her Delsym cough syrup and honey and she seemed fine. Fast forward several months and she's still coughing a few times a week at bedtime. It's a dry cough and she coughs every few minutes - not continuously. She's obviously not doing this for effect (ie - no whining for honey or asking to stay up). Once she falls asleep she doesn't cough, except very rarely - like once every two weeks I'll hear her coughing in the middle of the night for a minute and then stopping.

She doesn't cough at any other time during the day and seems to breathe normally while running and playing.

Does anyone have any ideas on what might be causing this cough? The only thing I can find on the Internet is asthma, but she doesn't have any other symptoms.

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answers from Phoenix on

Allergies, maybe? Something in her quilt or pillow that she's sensitive to?
Good luck, mama, and hope she's feeling better soon.

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answers from New York on

i recommend that you treat it like allergies at first, vacuum more often, use a hepa air cleaner in her bedroom, use dust covers and pillow covers. try to use products with less/no fragrance. you can raise her head a little too, put a pillow under the mattress. a humidifier is great, but you have to be really careful, i molded our house with ours, worse than dryness. if none of that works, i would see an ent. i would probably see one anyway, really. could be seasonal asthma. do you have pets? does she play outside in any woods/fields? stuff to think about..... good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

This happened to my son and he ended up being allergic to dairy. Because it is a dry cough, it is probably an allergy that kicks in when she lays down. I noticed he would have the cough only after having dairy, particularly ice cream or cheese. OTC allergy meds usually work well for this or you can ask her doctor what you should give her. Eventually, he perscriped a particular cough med that was specific for allergy coughs (he was 9 at the time). Try and pin down what exposures cause the cough.


answers from Seattle on

My kids do this as well. It started after we had a horrible cold and flu season at our house.

We have ended up with inhalers...If it seems on the bad side they get two puffs. I have to say that after we started this procedure it didnt get better.

Since we moved into a house with hard wood floors it has stopped almost all together.

It is probably just a little inflammation, that has hung around in her chest. If it seems to bug her at any time, I would have it checked out.



answers from New York on

I vote for dust mite covers for the pillows. Also she should blow her nose right before bed so post-nasal drip doens't irritate the throat.

It could also be reflux (acid comes back up the esophagus irritiating the throat), maybe you could try avoiding any food within 2 hours of bed, and avoiding spicy foods,citrus etc

If that doesn't work, I would take her to an ENT (Ear Nose & throat dr), b/c she or he have a device that allows them to see deep in the throat to see what's going on.



answers from Dallas on

Sounds like allergies. This time of year is really bad for pollen. I would wash her sheets and maybe have your husband change the filter in the vents. Also, a humidifier wouldn't hurt.

Good Luck!



answers from Topeka on

Sounds like it could be allergies...ask your pharmacist what you could give her to help with allergies.



answers from Washington DC on

My 3 year old son takes 1/2 tsp of zyrtec before bed every night, otherwise he coughs from post-nasal drip from allergies.



answers from Detroit on

Do you have an allergy cover for her pillow? I've heard that can really help. Also maybe put her on two pillows at night for a week to see if that helps. My son had this after a cold last year. He went on breathing treatments for a few weeks and we were told it might be asthma. He has not had another episode since (fingers still crossed!).

Good Luck,



answers from Dover on

Could be allergies/allergy induced asthma. That is what I have (the latter) and my daughter has the former. Check w/ her doctor.



answers from Dallas on

My kids do that when their allergies are bothering them. For them, it's post nasal drip like someone else mentioned. I told the ped that I was occasionally giving them benadryl for it and he said that was fine. I started washing their hair every night and it helped, too. I also put allergy covers on all of their pillows.


answers from Phoenix on

Not sure what it could be but get Vick's Vapo Rub and put a THICK layer on the bottoms of her feet at bedtime and cover with more coughing. good luck.



answers from Cleveland on

My 7 yo has had good luck using what is an easier version of a Netti pot. it's more of a squeeze bottle. I taught him how to use it in the bathtub where he was relaxed and could get comfortable with how to tip his head.

He hasn't been tested for allergies or anything but does get post nasal drip often.



answers from San Francisco on

When that starts up with two of my 3 kids, I break out the humidifier, start using the prescription allergy meds again and it subsides. When it subsides then I stop with the meds.

Sooo,maye it is allergies? Our doc said the potnasal drip causes the coughing.
Good luck!