Asthma in children is often presented through wheezing, but not all children with asthma wheeze. Find out why coughing every night may be a symptom of asthma with help from a pediatrician in this free video on babies and health care.
Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we're going to be talking about asthma and coughing in children. Now, when we think about asthma, we think about a disease that causes wheezing. What is wheezing? Wheezing is a high-pitched sort of whistling sound that children make when they're breathing out. It's actually the collected sound of air rushing through narrowed airways, thousands and thousands or narrowed airways all at once, collectively it sounds like some sort of pipe organ, and it's best heard with a stethoscope. If you can hear wheezing without a stethoscope, it's really, really bad. That said, not all children who have asthma wheeze, and a wheeze is certainly the most obvious symptom. What is? Probably cough. Some children with asthma only cough. They may never wheeze. They may never tell you that they're short of breath, and yet they still have asthma. So then, I start to pay attention to the coughing pattern. Specifically, a nighttime cough bothers me a lot, especially in a child who has other risk factors for asthma, such as having nasal allergies, eczema or a strong family history of allergic disease. If a child coughs every night when he or she is in bed, especially if it's during the Fall or during the Spring, I get very concerned that asthma may be playing a role. Likewise, a child who coughs reliably when he or she exercises, it may not be every time, but if it's consistent, the child runs around and has to stop to cough, that's a very strong indicator that that child may well have asthma. Now, a lot of parents will come to me and say, you know, he coughs when he gets hot. Well, what do you mean when he gets hot? Well, you know, he's running around, playing outside and then he coughs. It's not the heat, it's the exercise that's doing it. But, that's an exercise-induced cough, and to me that strongly suggests asthma. Now, if you have an asthmatic child who is coughing, he or she may benefit from a rescue medication. That type of medication is a bronchodilator that's inhaled, usually using a meter dose inhaler, commonly called a pump, or using a machine called a nebulizer. The key is, if your child is reaching for that rescue inhaler or nebulizer, say your doctor has prescribed one and they need it more than a couple of times a month or they need it more than once in a day or even in a week, you really want to seek care. That cough that's persistent, we can make that better. That suggests untreated asthma. No child today should walk around with untreated asthma. We should be able to get that child to a point where he or she can sleep and can exercise and do anything any other child can do without having to stop to cough or breathe. So, if you notice that your child has a cough that is suspicious for asthma, please get him or her evaluated because we've got tons we can do to make them feel much much better. Talking about cough and asthma in children, I'm Dr. David Hill.