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This May Be Why Your Child Coughs All Night

Provided by Children’s Robitussin®

Help your kid get a better night’s sleep.


You finally got your child to bed and you’re ready to settle in for the night, when suddenly, you hear a horrible hacking. Sound familiar? A recent study published in the journal Plos One found that of 7,670 parents surveyed, one-quarter of their children experienced nighttime cough. Your child’s coughs can keep the whole family awake, not to mention make your little one’s throat sore. Read on to see what might be causing your kid’s cough, and how to deal with it. You can also consider Children’s Robitussin to relieve coughing due to a cold so they don’t lose shut-eye (just check the label for age-appropriate dosing).

1. Nocturnal Asthma

If your child has asthma, you might notice their symptoms (nighttime coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness) worsening at night—this is called nocturnal asthma. A study of almost 300 children aged 4 to 10 with persistent asthma found that most of them also suffered from nighttime symptoms, leading to insufficient sleep for kids and worsened quality of life for parents. Asthma can be triggered by a number of irritants—including allergens, dust, the weather, and even exercise—and it may get worse at night because airway function decreases as you sleep and airway resistance increases over the course of the night. If you think your child has nocturnal asthma, talk to a pediatrician, who may suggest treatment options to reduce the chances of any flare-ups.

2. Postnasal Drip

When your child sleeps, they swallow less often, and mucus in their nose and sinuses can accumulate in their throat. This can contribute to swallowing problems, causing hoarseness, throat clearing, or coughing. Treating the postnasal drip should help clear up your child’s throat problems. Take your child to the doctor for an ear, nose, and throat exam to determine what’s causing their postnasal drip (it could be issues like bacterial infections or allergies), so your kid can go back to sleeping soundly.

3. Dirty Sheets

The most common cause of chronic stuffy noses in children is allergies, which, for many kids, is triggered by pet fur and dust mites. The allergy-induced congestion can cause kids to cough and breathe through their mouths when they sleep. Keep Fido off the bed (or even out of the bedroom altogether) to keep pet dander from gathering in the sheets, switch drapes out for blinds (and use a damp cloth to wipe them down regularly), and use mite-proof cases on mattresses and pillows—and don’t forget to wash bed linens frequently in hot water. You can also install a HEPA air cleaner and run it overnight in your child’s bedroom.

4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a long-lasting type of reflux, which is when stomach acid travels up into the esophagus instead of down to the intestines. While many kids have acid reflux occasionally, fewer children—about 25 percent—have symptoms of GERD. Although heartburn is one of the most infamous of GERD’s symptoms, it’s not always present in people with the condition. GERD can also cause trigger a pretty annoying cough—even without heartburn. A doctor can diagnose GERD with several tests, and they may recommend lifestyle changes. Certain foods can often trigger GERD, so avoiding triggers, such as high-fat foods, may help (your doctor can help you determine your child’s exact triggers). Other helpful lifestyle changes your child can try are eating smaller meals, not lying down for three hours after eating, and sleeping at an angle, so your child’s head is elevated 6 to 8 inches.

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