My 10-year old boy won't stop coughin... - Asthma UK communi...

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My 10-year old boy won't stop coughing and we don't know why :(

frenchliz profile image

I am new to this forum and hope to find support and advice regarding my eldest son who has now been coughing pretty much non-stop since the middle of December!! We're all exhausted and worried about his condition and so far have been very confused by the health professionals we've seen...

He has a history of chest infections, croup etc and last year - after yet another trip to A&E because he was breathless - I decided to ask for him to be referred to a private consultant (I have cover through work) for further investigation.

He had a blood test and a chest Xray then that didn't reveal anything unusual. So when he started coughing in December (a very dry, relentless cough) we went back to the consultant and she initially prescribed antibiotics, suspecting a mycoplasma - this seemed to work at first then a few days later the cough came back with a vengeance - she prescribed another course of antibiotics then as we were off to France for the Christmas holiday. Again, this seemed to improve his cough at first and he was pretty much okay throughout the break (at time complaining of a tight chest but not coughing much); however when we got back home he started coughing like mad again. Took him to the GP as it was horrendous and they said it was very likely to be asthma - cough-variant asthma. He's now on strong steroids for three days and has been given an inhaler too to take twice a day. We were told it may take up to three weeks to work though.

Why wouldn't the consultant consider asthma in the first place? I am still very confused - and quite cross to be honest - that she just gave him antibiotics (despite his saliva sample coming back as showing no bacteria).

I have now booked an appointment with another specialist in respiratory paediatrics who will hopefully be able to help us more.

My son is otherwise very healthy, and very sporty too, playing up to 5 hours of football a week. He's not been able to go to school nor do any sports for pretty much a month and we're all feeling quite miserable and worried about the future now.

Any advice, tips or experiences you can share would be great!



32 Replies

Unless the consultant is a respiratory specialist they might not recognise an Asthma variation. Hope new specialist can help sort things out

frenchliz profile image
frenchliz in reply to K8ty25

She was also specialised in respiratory medicine (in children)!! Sometimes you do wonder - I found out about CVA myself on Google and my son has all the obvious symptoms (ie a persistent dry cough without a wheeze nor a temperature etc) yet she still prescribed antibiotics - and didn't even mention asthma!

Hi how awful for your poor boy and how worried you must be! One thing which might help is that one of the common triggers is dust mites. Do you wash all your bedding and bedclothes in at least 60 degrees? If you don't then it doesn't kill them.

Another thing is pillows - they are notorious for collecting dust mites and you need to wash them frequently or replace them every 6 months or so.

I hope this helps a bit. x

frenchliz profile image
frenchliz in reply to hypercat54

How funny, I was actually watching his bed linen today and was hesitating between 40 and 60C! Went for 40 in the end but will follow your advice going forward. I hope the specialist can test him for allergies so we know more about the triggers (and whether it’s definitely CVA).

We’ve been thinking about mould and dust as possible culprits.

Thanks for your help!

hypercat54 profile image
hypercat54 in reply to frenchliz

Oh fancy that! He might not be intolerant of dust mites but like I said it is a common trigger with asthmatics so this is a little thing you can do which might help a bit. x

Yep and hoovering bed and using a mattress protector are also suggestions that might help

Yes very true. When I found out about how many dust mites were in pillows I couldn't believe it! Apparently in am old pillow half the weight could be made up of them.... x

Wow, always forget pillows. Thanks for that point!

frenchliz profile image
frenchliz in reply to hypercat54

Eeek! I have bought new pillows as well as anti-allergen pillow protectors now! Thanks for the tip

hypercat54 profile image
hypercat54 in reply to frenchliz

That was quick! Hope it helps. x

galathea profile image
galathea in reply to frenchliz

We had the house tested for formaldehyde, which was higher than it ought to be. We got rid of all non natural carpets and furnishings and we now only paint with clay based paints. I was waking up coughing a dry cough most nights, but much better since i changed to a wool duvet and wool pillows.

What I have found with my asthma is I am the cough type also! Is that GPs and health professionals do not appear to be that well educated on asthma, they do peak flow test and focus on this, to be fair even on flare up my peak flow is good! I have had steroids etc however after 3 weekly trips (2 to gps different ones) and finally yesterday my asthma nurse they have doubled my inhaler dosage and my cough is already improving, despite the steroids for a week, vicks vapour plug ins at night and when awake humidifier they have not settled it! I take 4 different medications for asthma anyway! But the peak flow test only works on upper respiratory area (chest) and not lower for your lungs, yet GP’s seem to be focused on this, so asked the asthma nurse yesterday why? The reply I got when have long standing chronic illness best to build Rapour with a GP so they get to know you and you know them (trust) etc however I would also say be careful what cleaning stuff you use and make sure you boil wash bedsheets etc howeve quite scary when you have chronic illness when you know more than your educated GP yet asthma stats loads of people suffer!

I have read many times that 60 degrees is enough to kill them. I don't think it's necessary to boil them though. x

I was diagnosed with CVA in September, (mostly my diagnosis but GP AGREES) . I do not wheeze, my PF is reasonable and my blood gases ok. [i worked in the medical profession]

That is the problem, too many medical professionals still want a wheeze for asthma. Beside a preventer and a reliever I also have a POM antihistamine and medication for reflux all trying to stop me coughing!

Recently I put a piece on here asking if CVA was difficult to diagnose and the replies whilst pleasant mainly tried to tell me I had anything but asthma.

You may have a battle on your hands but stick to your responsibility to your son and get him the correct diagnosis. Best of luck.

frenchliz profile image
frenchliz in reply to Oldandgray

Thank you - I will not stop until I know what is wrong with him and we have a plan in place!

After three days of prednisolone his cough has improved but it seems to be worse in the morning and the evening still... Hoping he can go back to school tomorrow but let's see! He's super sporty (plays for the local district football team) and I am so worried this is going to come in the way of his football too :(

Seeing the consultant on Weds, will let you know what he says; I want him tested for allergies too of course.

I hope your CVA gets better and you get cough-free days!!

Thanks for the support

Oldandgray profile image
Oldandgray in reply to frenchliz

I cough for the Uk in he morning. The afternoons are a little better and hardly cough at all in the evening just for it all to start again the next day.

frenchliz profile image
frenchliz in reply to Oldandgray



What a worrying time for you. Just a couple of ideas. It does sound like CVA. First what inhaler did they give him? Second - you mentioned that he got a bit better when you were on holiday and it came on again when you got back. Do you have pets at home or was it colder at home than in France. I know that I am worse breathing in cold air. The other thing is that he has a history of chest infections and coup. He may require a boost to his immune system. Probiotics are required if he has been on antibiotics and the antioxidants A,C and E and the mineral zinc can be helpful. A naturopath or alternative medicine doctor may give some ideas in this area. I often find it helpful if someone can recommend a doctor or naturopath as sometimes you do have to visit a few until you find the one for you.

You are with your son and see him everyday so trust your judgement as to how he is going.

hypercat54 profile image
hypercat54 in reply to Tugun

Yes the bit about being better when away got me thinking that too! x

frenchliz profile image
frenchliz in reply to Tugun

They gave him a Seretide 50 purple inhaler and he's just finished 3 days on prednisolone. His cough is much better now so it seems to have worked (although won't say this out loud, too worried to jinx it!)

No pets (we used to have a dog but he passed away) and it was fairly mild in France but I am not sure it was this much colder here to be honest (we're in Hampshire).

Apart from the cough he's been fine and it certainly hasn't affected his appetite - he had a blood test recently that showed - according to the private consultant - that he was 'in very good health and on a very good diet' (although I can't take the credit for this, my partner does the cooking ;)) - so apart from the occasional chest issue he's a very healthy and sporty boy... I guess it is his weakness.

Thanks for the help and I will bear the probiotics and minerals in mind.

galathea profile image
galathea in reply to frenchliz

If you are in Hampshire you could ask to be seen at Southamptipon who are a centre of excellence for asthma.

I live in dorset but went to Southampton. They were great and did all the allergy testing and tried lots if different medications till i found one that suited me.

The amount of asthmatics with this issue with healthcare professionals who refuse to believe its asthma unless you wheeze are a significant number. I would recommend giving the nurses at Asthma U.K. helpline a phone call they are excellent and very knowledgeable. Are the inhalers working yet? Has your son been given a spacer as well? As they allow more medication to reach the lungs.

Thanks for the tip, I will give them a call - the steroids and inhaler seem to be helping as his cough is much better today - fingers crossed!

And yes he has a spacer and we make sure to use it

I believe you have some type of water damage in your home from what you're describing. You went away and cough improved, but not the full resolution of symptoms.... Because they gave your son antibiotics and those are made with molds and are contraindicated in those with exposure to microbes. They will grotesquely exacerbate the systemic issue and that means the system can't resolve the lung inflammation.

Look closely at his environment. Any musty smells? Pipes leaking under sinks? Carpets that were wet in a water intrusion? Shower leaking? Take the bottom draw out in the wardrobe in his room or the room above and see if any signs in the under side.

If I were to be right, even your personal effects would be contaminated and certainly enough to keep triggering his system.

Look at this like his life depends on it, it does. Because even it it were not the cause, it most certainly is a problem to anyone with asthma in any event now.

Interestingly we have a leak in our en-suite shower (where we noticed mouldy patches) and are looking to have it replaced soon; in the meantime I have washed all the mouldy patches with an anti-mould spray (the house stinks of bleach now!) so fingers crossed it'll be enough for now, until the new shower is in.

I have been washing pretty much everything in sight as a result too!

His cough has improved so fingers crossed it will stay like this and he can go back to school!

Thanks so much for your help

Well, spoke too soon!! Hideous coughing fit until 2am last night :(

The nightmare continues :(

Thanks all for your help and support.

We had a really good day yesterday and were getting him ready to go back to school - then the relentless coughing started again at 9pm until 2am - then again this morning since waking up :(

It's so upsetting to see him like this and I feel so hopeless.

We've booked an emergency GP appointment this morning but I've lost hope that anything they give us will make a difference, as nothing seems to work.

Desperate and upsetting times :(


I checked up on Seretide and it comprises a corticosteroid (fluticasone propionate) which helps to reduce swelling in the airways and acts as a preventer and the second medicine in Seretide is a bronchodilator (salmeterol xinafoate) which is a long acting reliever and relaxes the muscles in the airways allowing them to open more. Salmeterol does not act quickly or immediately but lasts for approximately 12 hours.

What you don't seem to have been given is a quick acting reliever such as salbutamol - also known as ventolin. A quick reliever is required in an asthma attack (and the CVA is that). A quick reliever immediately opens the airways. In very severe attacks or with severe chest infections the quick reliever is not always successful and it is then that a trip to hospital happens. However your son doesn't sound like he is that severe but I would suggest you ask the doctor if a quick acting reliever like Ventolin would help, as seretide is not relieving the cough variant asthma quickly enough. Most people on Seretide are using Seretide to control the asthma but have Ventolin (Salbutamol) as a back up. It seems that your son may need the back up (Ventolin) until the Seretide is fully working.

The below website will give you more comprehensive information on Seretide and asthma.

Wishing your son a quick recovery.


Just wondering how he is going?

He has been much better (practically cough-free) since last Weds now - back at school and back on the football/ rugby pitch! We saw a (different) private consultant last week who thinks it's a 'habit cough' rather than asthma - probably triggered by a viral infection - due to the honking nature of his cough and the fact that he wasn't coughing at night...

For now he is still on the purple inhaler but likely to come off it after our follow-up appointment next week.

Interestingly habit coughs often affect young children in his age group (10/11) and is considered a tic - which my son has suffered from occasionally throughout his childhood.

So not a definite diagnosis as yet but looking very likely it is habitual - if and when the cough comes back (I pray it doesn't!!) we will have to use some techniques to help him manage it. He's also been prescribed a nasal spray.

Thanks so much for the help and support and for asking after him!!

I am pleased to read your son is on the road to recovery. I hope what ever is wrong doesn't come back, but if it does then you know what to do. Try caffeine to help with hard to breathe attacks also. If you don't have mould killer, use bleach (depending on the one you use) dilute it slightly as bleach smells can use asthma attack I hope everything goes well with the next follow up appointment

Has your son done spirometry to get a clearer picture of his lung function? It can be really helpful in getting a definite diagnosis x

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