Excessive night cough in kids can result from viruses that cause colds, the flu and bronchitis. Excessive night coughing can also result from allergies and asthma. Coughing in children tends to worsen during the night due to the drainage of mucus from the nose and sinus into the throat, triggering excessive night coughing. Kids who suffer from asthma are more prone to develop excessive nighttime coughing as airways are more irritable and sensitive at night.
Types of coughs
Kids who suffer from excessive night coughs may have productive, non-productive, barky and/or croupy sounding nighttime coughs. Productive coughs commonly result from infections such as the flu, bronchitis, colds and RSV. To distinguish if your child has a productive nighttime cough, you will be able to hear congestion making a rattling noise in their chest when coughing. Non-productive nighttime coughing will sound dry and raspy. Barky sounding coughs at night usually signify a croup infection that flares at night and is distinguished by a cough that resembles a seal barking. All types of nighttime coughing in children may be accompanied by wheezing and/or gasping for air as airways are more sensitive and irritable at night.
Over-the-counter cough syrups and medicines may provide slight relief from night coughing, but will not treat the underlying cause of excessive coughing. Unless your child is over the age of four, do not use cough syrups or medication to treat coughing without consulting your paediatrician. Avoid using cough drops to treat coughing in younger children which can pose a risk of choking.
Coughing in kids tends to flare at night because mucus drains from the nose and sinuses into the throat, and airways are highly sensitive. Excessive night coughing in kids can be treated at home by turning the hot water on in your shower and letting it run for 15 to 20 minutes. Sit with your child in the bathroom with door shut and allow the steam to penetrate and sooth your child's chest, which will reduce night coughing. Keeping the air in your kid's room moist will also reduce excessive night coughing. Use a vaporiser to increase the humidity level in your kids room and add essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary or peppermint to create soothing vapours within the steam. Vapour rubs may also provide relief for nighttime cough. Rub a small amount of the vapour rub on your child's chest and dress them in warm, tight clothing to increase the vapour effects and relieve excessive nighttime coughing.
If your child is suffering from excessive night coughing that is not resolved by home remedies, you may need to seek guidance from your paediatrician. All types of coughing are often successfully and promptly treated with steroid medications. Aerosol nebuliser treatments are also very powerful and effective at managing excessive nighttime coughing. Your paediatrician may also recommend a prescription strength cough syrup to remedy excessive night cough.
In rare cases, excessive coughing during the day and night may be the result of aspiration. Aspiration, which tends to occur in babies and very young children, is when an object has been swallowed or inhaled and is stuck in the throat or lungs. Babies and kids who have aspirated usually suffer from excessive coughing that lasts longer than a week but have no symptoms of a cold or infection. Objects that have been aspirated and are not treated can cause an infection environment in the lungs and develop into pneumonia. In aspiration cases that turn into pneumonia, surgery is most likely necessary to remove the object from the lungs.