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My 4year old son coughing every night

Hello.

My son has been coughing every night for months now. I feel so sorry for him. He still sleeps in our bed with us, habit and because he tends to cough so much that he ends up being sick (we have sick buckets that we keep by our bed) and has done this for years. I had an emergency c section with him and went into labour a week before I was due to have the planned c section, he was only 5lb 4oz. He’s always had reflux issues and was put on omeprazole, ranitidine and other meds when he was a baby. We’ve always given him lactose free milk as we felt cows milk made him more sick. We’ve always propped his bed up at night. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with asthma and given a blue and brown inhaler and has been in a&e 3 times with wheezing and put on steroids. We haven’t seen the asthma nurse for a long time (which is our fault) as we thought it was more to do with food intolerances. The doctor put him on omeprazole as he went through a stage of being sick every day (he’s sadly used to being sick as it’s very regular but it doesn’t seem to bother him) but he wouldn’t take the medicine as it was liquid form. He also can make himself sick on purpose, eg if he doesn’t want to go to nursery (nursery got wise to this after I kept having to take him home and had to tell them that he didn’t have a bug, he was doing it so we would take him home (he’s very settled there now)) or when he gets told off. He also has (unconfirmed) anxiety, eg. If he’s worried about something, he will be sick, he threw up in town because he thought the fire alarm was going to go off and he’s frightened of it because he says it was too loud. He was sick at the cinema because he was excited and scared he told us and this has been happening for the last few years. But I am now thinking this is all to do with his asthma. As soon as the heating kicks in, he coughs, the cold air makes him cough, certain foods (with dairy in) make him cough but doctors say that he would have a rash etc if it was food related. We are going to make an appointment for him next week to see the asthma nurse again as we haven’t been using the inhaler lately. Do I give him 2 puffs of the inhaler every time he coughs or just when he has a coughing fit? Sorry for the long post, my partner thinks I’m over reacting.

Hannah

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It sounds like you have your hands full & a complex set of problems going on - my instinct is that you need to take a bit of a long-term view & see if you can start to break down some of the difficulties that he has, many of which I'm sure will be impacting upon each other.

In terms of things you've mentioned that are widely recognised as asthma triggers, beds & bedding, anxiety, dry air, moist air, dairy/food products, & reflux issues are all there, & I'm sure that knowing where to start must be a nightmare for you. What I would say straight away though is don't mess about with the inhalers, especially if he is presenting asthma symptoms. Without being overly dramatic, they save children's lives & the golden rule with any asthma is better safe than sorry (the inhaler is highly unlikely to cause him harm but might very well ease his cough). Remember that the brown one works over time, so stopping it dramatically reduces his protection.

Lots of people on here could, I'm sure, give you lots of tips & if you search through threads you will find hundreds on managing asthma in small children - take some time to look through them & write down anything you think might help your situation (not all of them will, of course, but I wish such things had been here for my parents, & me as a dad!)

Next, I would try to break down his day & night into small parts & look at where problems & symptoms arise. Try to watch him carefully & map out what is feeding what. Medically, children's tubes & airways are much smaller & therefore symptoms will tend to be exaggerated, but a step back & some observation might give you some clues which, in the heat of daily battle with a nipper, you might be missing. Socially & emotionally, children are complex little things & will use, misuse and misunderstand health problems they have for attention, to express fear, and to make assumptions about themselves & their lives that make sense to them but not to us.

It's probably important to recognise that & (insofar as is possible) try & get into his head to see what he is thinking, feeling & trying to do. That might mean some 'tough love' somewhere, upping the tlc, or something else that feels right in your family, e.g. get rid of things that you don't have to do, change routines, reward him for calmness, & so on.

Incidentally, & I know because I've been like your partner myself & down-played both my own symptoms & my kids, under-reacting is just as dangerous as over-reacting; I guess your trick is to meet in the middle!

I hope that helps a bit anyway & remember that there are a lot of people on here who have either been through or going through frightening situations with asthmatic children so keep asking for advice as you need it :)

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Hi there.

Thank you very much for the quick reply and thank you for all the advice 😊

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