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My Son Has Asthma And Keeps Coughing

What Should You Do If Your Child Has An Asthma Attack

Why is my toddler coughing?

If your child is showing symptoms of an asthma attack:

  • Give your child their reliever medicine according to the asthma action plan.
  • Wait 15 minutes. If the symptoms go away, your child should be able to resume whatever activity they were doing. If symptoms persist, follow the Asthma Action Plan for further therapy.
  • If your child fails to improve, or if you aren’t sure what action to take, call your care provider.

The danger signs of an asthma attack are:

  • Severe wheezing.
  • Trouble walking and/or talking,
  • Blue lips and/or fingernails.

If your child has any of these danger signs/symptoms, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911.

What Causes Asthma In Children

The exact cause of asthma is unknown. Genetics and environment likely play a role in which children get asthma.

An asthma attack can happen when your child is exposed to an asthma trigger. An asthma trigger is something that can set off or worsen asthma symptoms. Different triggers can cause different types of asthma:

  • Allergic asthma is caused by allergens. Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. They can include
  • Exercise-induced asthma happens during physical exercise, especially when the air is dry
  • Asthma triggers may be different for each child and can change over time.

    Other Reasons For Cough And Wheeze In Children

    Colds and viruses

    Children can have as many as eight colds in a year. Their immune system is still developing and colds often bring coughs along with them. This is because when your child has a cold, mucus can run down into their throat and coughing is a way to clear it.

    Most coughs due to colds and viruses are not serious and clear up within about three weeks. But see your childs GP if the cough goes on for longer, your child has long coughing bouts several times a day, or they vomit when they cough.

    Viral wheeze

    The most common reason why children wheeze is colds and viruses. GPs call this viral wheeze.

    As long as your child is not distressed or struggling for breath, this is usually nothing to worry about. It should stop in two to three days once your childs fought off the virus.

    But if your childs not sleeping well, theyre off their food and drink, or they seem irritable, call your child’s GP and ask for a same day appointment.


    Croup is a viral infection of the larynx which causes a distinctive barking cough and a harsh, grating sound on breathing in . Your child may also wheeze.

    Babies and toddlers are more likely than older children to get respiratory infections like croup.


    Bronchiolitis is caused by a virus that makes the airways in the lungs swell and narrow which is why your child will cough and wheeze. Theyll also need to make more effort to breathe.

    Hay fever

    Cigarette smoke

    Find out more about support available to help you quit.

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    Is My Child’s Cough Covid

    People with COVID-19 often have a dry cough, but you can also have a wet cough from COVID. If your child has a cough and other COVID symptoms, or if they have been around someone who has COVID, they should be tested.

    If your child’s cough from COVID lasts longer than three weeks, call their pediatrician. If at any point your child’s cough is so bad they can’t breathe, take them to the ER.

    Avoiding Childhood Asthma Triggers

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    To prevent asthma attacks or to keep them from getting worse, focus on known triggers with steps like these:

    • Donât let anyone smoke in your home or car.
    • Clean bedding and carpets often to fight dust mites.
    • Keep pets out of your childâs bedroom. An air filter can help with allergens.
    • Get regular pest control to avoid cockroaches.
    • Fix leaks and use dehumidifiers to prevent mold.
    • Donât use scented cleaning products or candles.
    • Check daily air quality reports in your area.
    • Help your child stay at a healthy weight.
    • If they have heartburn, keep it under control.
    • If exercise is a trigger, your childâs doctor might have your child use the inhaler 20 minutes before the activity to keep their airways open.
    • Make sure they get a flu shot every year.

    Read Also: Is Eosinophilic Asthma An Autoimmune Disease

    Asthma Treatments For Children

    Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

    Your childs health care provider may refer you to a pulmonologist. This is a doctor with special training to treat lung conditions. Your child may also be referred to an allergist. Both of these specialties have expertise in treating asthma. Your childs treatment is based on how severe his or her symptoms are and how well they are controlled. Treatment includes finding triggers and ways to avoid them. It will also include medicines. Asthma medicines include:

    Medications for quick relief of symptoms:

    • Bronchodilators . These medicines are used for quick relief to help open the narrowed airways. They help relieve coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The most commonly used asthma medication, albuterol, is a bronchodilator.
    • Combination inhalers with inhaled steroids and a certain long-acting bronchodilator . Sometimes, in specific cases, these medications may also be used for quick relief.
    • Steroids . These are sometimes needed for short-term treatment of significant asthma flare-ups.

    Asthma control medications to help control and prevent symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of exacerbations:

    How Will You Know When Your Child’s Asthma Is Well

    You will know that your child’s asthma is well-controlled if, while on medications, your child:

    • Lives an active, normal life.
    • Has few troublesome symptoms.
    • Performs daily activities without difficulty.
    • Has had no urgent visits to the doctor, emergency department or hospital.
    • Has few or no side effects from the medications.

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    How To Use Your Peak Flow Meter

  • Make sure your child is standing.
  • Make sure the arrow indicator is set to zero.
  • Have your child take a very deep breath, then, holding the meter tightly between his lips, have him blow out hard and fast.
  • Write down the number where the arrow indicator stopped.
  • Have your child blow into the meter two more times.
  • Record on your peak flow meter chart the highest number, which is your childs peak flow.
  • Why Does My Son Keep Coughing

    Symptoms of Asthma

    I see lots of children with persistent coughs especially in these winter months. Your son may have picked up an infection which is taking its time to clear up.

    Alternatively he may have become sensitive or allergic to something in his environment which is affecting the lining of his nose and the airways in his lungs.

    As he has been coughing for three weeks he should be taken to be checked by his doctor just as you have done. The doctor needs to decide whether your son has an infection. This is more likely if as you say he has had a temperature.

    As your doctor has said the majority of chest infections in children are caused by viruses and will get better on their own.

    Some virus infections make the airways behave the same way as those in a child with asthma. This could make your son’s cough last for a month or more and might also make him wheezy.

    It may be that this is why your doctor has treated your son with ventolin , a drug which opens up the airways, and steroids, which reduce swelling and inflammation in the airways. Both these drugs also help if the cause of your son’s prolonged cough is asthma.

    Your son may be more likely to have asthma if close family members suffer with asthma, eczema or hay fever.

    It may be that your son has a less common chest infection caused by a bacteria in which case he will need to take a course of antibiotics.

    We recommend readers seek personal medical attention in appropriate circumstances.

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    Why Are More Children Getting Asthma

    No one really knows why more and more children are developing asthma. Suggestions include the following:

    • Children are being exposed to more and more allergens such as dust, air pollution and second-hand smoke.
    • Children aren’t exposed to enough childhood illnesses to build up their immune systems.
    • Lower rates of breastfeeding have prevented important substances of the immune system from being passed on to babies.

    Can A Child Outgrow Asthma

    Once someone gets sensitive airways, they may stay that way for life. This is the case even though asthma symptoms can change over the years. As a child gets older, they may be able to handle airway swelling and irritants better, so their symptoms may get better. About half of those children get asthma symptoms again when they are in their late 30s or early 40s. There is no way to know which children may have reduced symptoms as they get older. New triggers may set off symptoms at any time in people who have asthma. If your child has asthma, keep quick-relief medicines and their Asthma Action Plan on hand , even if symptoms dont happen often.

    Medical Review December 2021 by Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, and Mitchell Grayson, MD

    Living with Asthma

    Also Check: What Causes Asthma In Infants

    What Medicines Can My Child Take To Prevent Attacks

    There are a few medicines available that might keep your child from having asthma attacks. Because these medicines work by reducing the inflammation in her lungs, they are called anti-inflammatories. These type of medications must also be taken on a regular basis, not when your child is having an attack. During an actual asthma attack, these medicines will not work well because they take too long to take effect. Your child will need rescue medicines to treat attacks directly. The following medicines work to prevent attacks:


    Doctors usually choose to prescribe cromolyn, or sometimes called cromolyn sodium, first as a preventive medication for children with asthma. Your child will need to take it twice or three times a day, and it comes available as a pill and in an inhaler for your child to breathe directly into her lungs. It takes a while, sometimes as long as six weeks, to really see results. But this medicine can prevent attacks, and helps many people to get through their days without one.


    This drug is very much like cromolyn, only it cannot be inhaled, only taken in pill form. People with asthma who take theophylline have found they have fewer attacks during the night. However, some people have some bad side effects when they take this medicine. You will want to talk to your doctor about this medicine before it is prescribed for your child.


    Should I Give My Child Cough Medicine

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    Never give a child OTC medicines that are meant to be taken by adults. Kids under the age of 2 should not be given OTC cold medicines that have a decongestant or antihistamine in them because they can cause a rapid heart rate and/or convulsions.

    If you have older children, ask your pediatrician about which products are safe to give them for a cough.

    Also Check: Will Benadryl Help Allergic Asthma

    How Can I Get The Most Out Of My Childs Visits To The Doctor

    Your doctor is a very important part of your childs treatment. In fact, your doctor will plan with you the treatment that your child will need daily, during asthma attacks, and if an attack is severe. Your role in this planning is to give your doctor as much information as possible so that he can decide what the best treatment plan is for your childs case.

    During the visit to your childs doctor, you can ask any questions that you have, and as they come to you in the weeks before your visit, be sure to write them down so you wont forget any of them.

    Make sure to bring the peak flow meter chart with you and show it to your childs doctor. Tell him about any severe attacks, and your childs current medicine schedule. Also, let him know if your child has any allergies that may aggravate the asthma. The doctor may recommend allergy testing for your child.

    When your doctor gives you a treatment plan for your child, be sure to follow it exactly. In case you may need to make notes during the visit, bring a pad and pencil with you.

    Most important, never miss a visit to the doctor. Your childs health depends on it!

    If your child has any of the following symptoms, call your doctor right away:

    Frequent And Persistent Cough

    A frequent, persistent cough in kids can be caused by something fairly simple, like throat irritation from mucus. However, a child’s cough that doesn’t go away can also be a sign that they’re having breathing trouble.

    A kid who is coughing a lot may have asthma, a chronic condition where the airways of the lungs become inflamed and narrow. Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose the condition and recommend treatment, like an inhaler or nebulizer.

    If your child’s cough is frequentmore than every five minutes for more than two hourscall your pediatrician.

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    Why Your Baby Might Be Coughing

    A cough is the bodys normal response to an invasion in the lungs or throat. Several conditions will pop up in your search for the term, my child wont stop coughing. Here are some reasons why your child might be coughing, to begin with:

    • Illness These include respiratory viruses like a cold, flu, or bacterial infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. For these, you might need cough medicine for kids.
    • Allergies Some children over two years can cough as a result of seasonal allergic reactions. Others might also be allergic to pet dander, dust, mold, and other household allergens.
    • Reflux Other children have gastroesophageal reflux disease. The condition can cause coughing and gags due to irritation in the throat caused by stomach acid.
    • Whooping cough Also known as pertussis, this is a serious bacterial disease that can affect children and adults. You will also need cough medicine for kids to treat this cough.
    • Asthma Asthma is a well-known respiratory condition that usually causes coughs while children are trying to sleep.

    In most instances, many coughs in children will go away on their own, sometimes without any cough medicine for kids. You might not even need to see the doctor. If you are not comfortable with just letting it resolve on its own, there is a lot of over-the-counter cough medicine for kids that you can buy, and the cough will go away.

    How Is Asthma Diagnosed In Infants And Toddlers

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    It is hard to diagnose asthma in infants and toddlers. Since they are not able to talk well, they cannot describe how they are feeling. A fussy baby could mean many things. Toddlers and preschoolers are often active, even with chest tightness or trouble breathing.Parents should give the following information to their childs doctor:

    • Family history of asthma or allergies
    • The childs behavior
    • Breathing symptom patterns
    • Potential triggers and responses to foods or possible allergy triggers

    Lung function tests often used to make a complete asthma diagnosis are hard to do with young children. Instead, the doctor may see how the child responds to medicines to improve breathing. The doctor may order blood tests, allergy testing, and X-rays to get more information.Using this information, the doctor can make the best diagnosis. Parents may need to take their child to a pediatric allergist or pulmonologist for special testing or treatment.

    Recommended Reading: How Do Doctors Diagnose Asthma

    How Your Childs Gp Or Asthma Nurse Can Help

    Your childs GP or asthma nurse will be able to tell you whether your child’s cough is caused by their asthma flaring up or something else.

    • They’ll be able to detect wheezing – as whistling sound in your child’s chest – using a stethoscope as it can be hard to hear.
    • They can review your childs medicines and triggers if they think your childs coughing or wheezing is because of their asthma, and look at ways to get their symptoms under control.
    • If your GP thinks your child could have asthma, they may suggest a trial of treatment with asthma preventer medicines or an inhaler to see if it helps, and further tests to help diagnose asthma or find out other causes.
    • If the cough is caused by something else, they can recommend over-the-counter medicines, such as anti-histamines, nasal drops, paracetamol or cough mixtures .
    • In some cases they may refer to a specialist if they think theres another reason for your childs cough or wheeze.
    • They can signpost you or anyone in the family to stop smoking services if cigarette smoke at home is making your childs symptoms worse.

    How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep

    Coping with disturbed nights because of your childs asthma can be difficult. You might also find it hard to sleep if youre worrying about their asthma.

    Try these tips:

    • Read through your childs written asthma action plan regularly so youre confident about what to do if they have asthma symptoms at night.
    • Jot down any worries and how youll deal with them for example, if you’re worried about your child’s cough at night, make a note that you’ll book an appointment with their GP or asthma nurse in the morning. This can help clear your mind so you feel more able to sleep.
    • with other parents on our asthma forum or read parents’ stories to find out how others cope.
    • our Helpline on 0300 222 5800 to speak to an asthma nurse specialist about your child’s night time symptoms. Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.

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