Singulair, Steroid and Allergy Testing for Dry Cough in 6 Yr old-NEED Advice!

Updated on July 30, 2012
D.B. asks from Grand Prairie, TX
11 answers

I brought my 6 yr old son to his pediatrician to be seen today for dry cough (cough is all day, but does not keep him awake at night-has been coughing for 2 weeks, no other symptoms at all). Pedi thinks it's from allergies and ordered blood be drawn to test for allergies. I agreed with that and we had blood taken and awaiting for those results. She also prescribed Singulair (chewable 5 mg) and a steroid (veripred 20 mg)-both to treat the allergic rhinitis (swollen airways or something she said). I researched the Singulair and found virtually tons of horrible reviews on it, the main complaint being terrible mood changes in a child, increased anxiety, terrible behavior, etc. What is also weird is that all the pharmacy gave me to let me know of possible side affects was their own print out stating: "abnormal dreams, hallucinations" as the ONLY behavior affects. It didn't list mood changes. Has anyone else had any experience or knowledge about Singulair and side affects? I haven't researched the steroid yet. My other question is: it seems like the wise thing would be to get the allergy results back first and see if we can remove the allergen from the home and/or avoid an outside allergen BEFORE we begin meds. Then he maybe wouldn't need the meds if we got rid of the allergin in the first place. Is my way of thinking correct? The FDA put out some negative info about Singulair back in 2008, but hasn't come to any conclusions.

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answers from Provo on

I tried Singulair for the first time this month. When I read the side effects I was a little wary, but I have gone through depressions before so I knew what to look for. By the second day I started feeling very down. I cut the dose in half but it still caused me to be depressed and irrational within just a few days. So I switched to an over the counter med. If you have any family history of depression or mental illness, I would avoid this drug and give him an over the counter med to relieve his symptoms until you know what the allergens are. He may have household and outside allergies, so you may not be able to control it all without meds. It's worth it to get him feeling better right away.

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answers from Reno on

my son has allergy induced asthma and he is on singulair. it has been a God send. i give it to him in the evening before bed as it makes him drousy. good luck to you. allergies are awful and i am glad we have a little bit of a handle on it.



answers from Tyler on

Both of my kids have asthma and take Singulair (my son has been on it for probably 8 years). We only have to use it seasonally and not absolutely every day of the year. At one point, my son was pretty bad off and he took it every day for probably two years. My son is very mild mannered and I have not noticed any side affects from the medicine on him. Further, he takes albuterol for asthma - which causes hyper activity in some kids and it does not affect him. We have been very happy with our asthma treatments.

As someone else said, the aerosol steroid is best for not having the medication absorbed systemically. The British have done a lot of research on this and our pediatrician gave us a copy of an article about it - which made me feel a lot better about it all.

The dry cough could just be a seasonal/allergy thing with your son - especially if this is his first incident. However, the dry cough is a very typical symptom of asthma as well, so you may want to keep a watch on it.

Good luck!


answers from Jacksonville on

You can always wait to give it to your son until you can talk with the pediatrician for more information on it.

My son has allergic rhinitis, too. It kept getting worse and worse, starting around 4/5 years old... until at age 7, he was sniffling/sneezing and congested in his sinuses all the time. I should have invested in Kleenex (or Kimberly Clark or whatever). It was awful.

We asked our family doctor about it and he said, yep it's allergic rhinitis. Son had the crinkle on top of his nose that is a telltale sign (constant wiping the nose gives them a crinkle). This was in 2005. After a few weeks, I noticed that my son started complaining of his stomach hurting shortly after going to bed each night. Nighttime was when he took the singulair. I got out the bottle and read the side effects list: stomach pain was there. So I called the doc, stopped giving him the sinuglair, and put him on a Nasonex. It helped, but still didn't solve his issues.

It wasn't until much later that I read all the horror stories about singulair. I seem to recall some associations with depression and suicidal thoughts, as well.

Eventually, we ended up having bloodwork done for his allergies (he's got a lot of pollens/molds that are released throughout the year... so symptomatic all year long except for about 2 weeks in December), and started on immuno-therapy (allergy shots). He has been getting them for over 2 years now, and it is a HUGE improvement. He still takes a daily OTC allergy med (zyrtec or allegra), but now he only uses 3 tissues a day, and some days NONE. Instead of filling up the floorboard in the car with used tissues just on the ride to school.

If it were me, I would not give the singulair. Certainly not until I had at LEAST talked to the prescribing doctor about the side effects listed--- at length. I can't think of any reason that your son wouldn't be fine to not take them (but I'm no doctor, of course).

ETA: from their own website:



answers from Dallas on

My son has been on Singulair for quite a few years now. His allergies are horrible. He also has asthma. He is allergic to a ton of trees, grass, flowers, mold, dust, etc. You name it. Anyway - the Singulair helps so much with the allergies but also with his asthma. I haven't noticed any side effects with him. It has been totally worth it in my opinion. Now the steriod can and usually does have some behavioral side effects. I HATE giving mine an oral steriod unless there is no other choice (major asthma attack). I wonder if your ped is thinking cough variant asthma instead of just allergies ? Something to check on.



answers from Denver on

My DD takes singulair for asthma, the 5mg chew. We have never experienced a single side effect, not one. It's been a God-send for us. Her colds used to always turn into bronchitis, and since being on this, this doesn't happen. Great to research and all kids are different, but that's our experience. She's got many friends with the same thing, never heard anything bad. Oh, she's 12, been on it since age 7 or so. Honestly, I've heard worse stories about steroids.

And I like your thinking about removing the allergen first. Certainly talk that over with your doc and if you want to wait to try that before starting anything, then wait. At least you'll feel like you exhausted all possibilities. Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

My son has no issues at all with singulair. And it does help with his allergies are at their worse. We use it only for the few months in the spring when his allergies are worse, and the rest of the time we use children's ceterizine (zyrtec).


answers from Dover on

Both my daughter and I have allergies and take Singulair. It has been wonderful for us. The ONLY complaint I have is the's worth every penny but does not mean I can afford the cost. We have experienced NO side effects or behavior problems at all. My daughter is a typical 5 yr old girl (been on Singulair a year now) and yes, she has her moods but so does every other child I know (especially girls). She actually has to take Zyrtec in the morning and Singulair at night. Nasonex spray when needed.

Your line of thinking (removing the allergen) is reasonable but maybe not as realistic as you first think. Does your child never go outside, to school, other homes, or other places? If she goes other places, it will be virtually impossible to completely remove the allergens. If you have a pet she could be allergic to that and depending on how bad her allergy is, you may have to get rid of it. If you don't but she's allergic, other people may have pet dander that could trigger it (in their home, on their clothes etc). If it is tree or grass pollens, a pet can bring that allergen to your child even if the pet is not the problem.

Your doctor prescribing the meds now (especially the steroid) is actually very good in my opinion. He is confident that she needs treatment and believes these will help her symptoms (regardless of the test results). Give them a chance and see how she does. The steriod helps give fast results w/ any inflammation that may be happening and causing the cough. Keep in mind that IF you see any of the "signs" you have read about, it could just be a mood or bad day and not necessarily a problem to be concerned about.



answers from Columbus on

My son has been on Singulair since he was 15 months old, so he's been on it for over 2 years.

When it was prescribed, we had similar concerns, but never experienced any side effects (at least, as we could figure from our son's behavior).

If you are concerned, you might ask your doctor to try children's Zyrtec first. It does not work quite the same way as Singulair, but it can be effective in treating allergies. We tried Zyrtec first, because it gave us less concern (after researching it), but ended up Singulair because Zyrtec wasn't working as well as we'd hoped.

I would be more concerned about the steriods, personally. Steroids can really mess with a person's body (for example, if you're diabetic, it can cause controlled/within normal range blood sugars to get out of whack, too high; that's just one example). We definitely noticed some (manageable) behavior changes when our son was on steroids and were very thankful he only needed a short course of them.

Frankly, I'd ask the doctor what happens if you let this cough continue. The possibility of the coughing getting worse, or developing additional complications, is probably why the doc is recommending getting the cough under control now and then dealing with the allergy problems in a management way after that, or as part of it.

You should also ask your doctor for a referral to a pediatric allergist asap. The ped. allergist can do more testing (skin prick tests are still the standard, and you can test for a variety of things that way).



answers from Dallas on

Poor baby, coughing for 2 weeks. My son went through this at age 5. He is now 8. He has severe seasonal allergies that cause asthma. We have tried so many different allergy meds, but Singulair has worked best. No side effects for him. I am not familiar with the steroid. Oral ones are more harmful than inhaled, but steroids are necessary when when the airway is inflamed. I would follow the pedi's advice. You don't want the cough to become worse or for pneumonia to develop. Also, I have never heard of drawing blood for allergy testing. My son saw an allergist and had a scratch test done. Good luck with everything. I know how hard it is to go through this having so many questions and trying to decide what is best for your child.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Here's our experience...

You might be better off with the allergy "scratch" test. My daughter was obviously suffering from allergies but when the pediatrician ordered blood work, everything came back negative. The allergist explained that the iGe attaches itself to the mast cells until around the age of 10 so blood tests will show negative when they are not.

Singulair is a lucotrene (sp?) receptor and not an antihistamine. It is often used in conjunction with an antihistamine.

When my daughter used it we did not notice any behavior changes but she did experience all over joint pain until she was off of it. Like every drug there are a list of possible side effects. The question is how will it effect 'you'. You may experience the lesser known side effects or none at all. You don't now until you try it.

Personally I believe your son needs to see an allergist for further testing. That way you can determine what the triggers are and get 'proper' treatment. Allergy injections can lessen the body's reaction to allergens but can take a little time to take effect. I wa told the younger you are the quicker they will take effect.

As part of the allergy test he should probably also do a pulmonary function test as well. With the cough he may need a short term dose of albuterol and or pulmicort until the other allergy remedies take effect.

You may also want to try an OTC antihistamine whether it be Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, or Benadryl. It can take trial and error to see which one works best for you.

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