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asthma while sleeping?


My son is 6 and as a younger child had several bad episodes of asthma and was hospitilised on occassions. On the last of those occassions he had an attack and we hadn't even realised how bad the attack was until we took him to the out of hours unit and the nurse called an ambulance straight away for us to be rushed to A & E.

He NEVER wheezes when having asthma but he does cough. He has a preventer and a reliever. When he looks like he is going to be bad we take him to the dr and he gives him steroids to prevent it getting worse. The last trip to hospital scared us. On that occassion he wasn't coughing he was just very tired and his breathing was quite shallow. because he was still we didn't realise how much he was struggling to get air in - we just thought he was tired and had a bad cold.

He hasn't had a really bad episode for about 2 years because if he looks like he is getting a cold or having an increase in symptoms we have followed the asthma plan and increased the preventor and given the reliever.

I do not feel very confident in assessing my sons asthma and I worry especially at night. If he has asthma then it can disturb him with the coughing BUT -

My question is this - if he is asleep and had a very bad attack - ie shallow breathing and struggling to get air in would he be able to wake up to alert us?

He has been coughing a lot today and we have given him reliever and extra doses of preventer but he has gone to bed and gone straight to sleep - I've checked on him a few times already and he just seems very still and peaceful?! I am not finding it very reassuring. Any advice would be welcome

4 Replies

It is a terrifying thing being a mummy to an asthmatic child.

I'm probably not going to be much help BUT..

We always check our daughter respiratory rate. We look at her chest rise and fall and note if it is any faster than usual. We also look at her ribs and see if there is any sucking in (recession). In Maddie this also happens around her throat too. We do this check every night before we go to bed. Maddie has brittle asthma and only once have we seen her struggling while still asleep. On that occasion her resps had increased ALOT and her chest, back and throat was all sucking in as she breathed. We then called for help.

On the majority of occasions though, both of my asthmatic daughters make it known to us if they are struggling. The eldest will come into us and say she's tight. But with both of them we are woken by their constant coughing.

We do on occasions bring them in with us too if we want to monitor more.

I hope things improve soon for you all.

Take care,

Emily x



If you are not happy get your son checked. When my daughter is poorly I sleep in her bedroom because I am not convinced she would be able to attract my attention. I am also more aware of her breathing and any changes, although the downside is sometimes she wakes up for a chat in the middle of the night. I also got her a little handbell so that in an emergency if she cannot speak or shout she can alert me by ringing it. To date this has worked for us. I can't answer whether he would wake up and alert you if he had real problems, but your GP or Asthma Nurse might be able to help you. Asthma UK's advice line is great you could always give them a ring, they are invaluable.

Good luck.


Hi I also spend a lot of time worrying about night times and my 7 yr old daughter struggling to get our attention!Especially as during her last attack she couldnt move to get out of bed to come and get me! Since then i have bought a baby monitor and use that every night so that i can hear when she is coughing and go to her straight away. The other night she was coughing badly and needed her ventolin, but didnt actually wake up as she didnt remember this in the morning!

It is such a huge worry being a mummy of an asthmatic child as it is so changeable and sometimes difficult to know how they really are feeling.

It is almost like my daughter is so used to not breathing properly that she doesnt really notice if it is bad enough for treatment.

It is so good having this forum though as you always know that you are not alone.

I hope this is of some help to you.

Good luck with your little one




Like Louise I bought a baby monitor for my 7yr old son and it is very reassuring to have. I also check my son's breathing before I turn in especially around his throat as that is where he draws in if he is struggling. I hope your son is feeling better today asthma is such a worry. My son went on a sleepover last night I hate him going because I always worry that other people don't take asthma seriously and I end up having a sleepless night wondering if he is okay. The sleepover was for his friends birthday and therefore I felt I had to let him go but I said to the birthday boys parents if you have ANY concern please ring me at anytime and I made sure I had the landline and my mobile with me in bed, the things we do!! Thankfully he was fine and he had a lovely time.

Thinking of you, Clare X


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