Small child

What can a bouts of wet cough at night mean?


Cough is very common in children and usually indicates a harmless viral infection. Common cold disease can occur in children up to several times a year. Nevertheless, some of his characters can be very disturbing for parents. Particularly speaking here are nighttime bouts of wet cough. Is there really anything to worry about and what pediatricians say about it? Can a child have bouts of wet cough at night and be healthy?

What is a cough and what are its different types?

Cough is a very important defensive reflex of the human bodyu. Its main function is cleaning the upper and lower respiratory tract from secretions, bacteria and viruses as well as possible foreign bodies. It is worth emphasizing that coughing is not a disease in itself. It is only a symptom that may (or may not) testify to it. Healthy children cough up to a dozen times a day. Attacks of nocturnal cough may occur regularly in 5% of them and not be associated with any pathology.

Depending on the duration, the cough is divided into characters. First acute cough lasting up to 3 weeks and most often associated with viral infections. Secondly subacute cough with a duration of 3 to 8 weeks and usually indicative of post-infective bronchial hypersensitivity. Thirdly chronic cough which lasts over 8 weeks and requires the most accurate diagnostics. What's more, it also stands out dry (non-productive) cough and wet (productive) cough.

Sick little boy unable to sleep because of cold and cough.

Attacks of a wet cough at night - causes

Wet cough is a very little symptom and it is often difficult or even impossible to determine its etiology. Nevertheless, several of its most common causes can be mentioned:

  • Chronic cough syndrome associated with the upper respiratory tract. Chronic secretion flow down the back of the throat. It accounts for 90-95% of cases of chronic cough in children and adults. Most often it is associated with diseases of the nose (infectious or allergic rhinitis) or paranasal sinuses. Its diagnostics requires a complete set of ENT tests and consultations, and the treatment consists of removing the cause of the discharge.
  • Colds and other viral infections. In the course of these infections, the cough is usually dry, but over time it becomes wet with expectoration of mucous or mucous-purulent discharge. Infections are usually accompanied by a number of other symptoms, such as feeling broken, runny nose, sore throat, or feverishness or fever. The cough and other symptoms usually disappear after a few days and do not require any treatment. It is only important to rest and take care of proper hydration. It is important, however, that especially in the youngest children, the cough may recur even several to a dozen times a year.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease. This regurgitation of gastrointestinal content from the stomach or esophagus may result in attacks of productive cough at night. Lying down facilitates the withdrawal of content and its entry into the respiratory tract. Diagnosis of the disease is based on the so-called 24-hour pH meter. Treatment involves the use of an anti-reflux diet. In babies fed with dairy mixes, so-called AR mixes are used. Higher bed head placement and administration of drugs from the group of proton pump inhibitors are helpful.

Of course, these are just the most common causes of wet coughing attacks at night. Others include bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, and chronic bronchitis. However, it should not be forgotten that their exclusion is the first step in the diagnosis of this symptom in children and adults.

Nocturnal coughing attacks

First of all, keep calm, wait for the attitude, give your child peace and ensure his hydration. However, if your symptoms do not improve within a few days, get worse, or are accompanied by other symptoms that disturb your parents, you should consult your doctor. It is inadvisable to administer antitussive drugs, especially without consulting a pediatrician, because cough, as we have already mentioned, is a defensive reflex of the body.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing once again that coughing is not a disease in itself and can occur in completely healthy children. The most disturbing are his ongoing cases over 8 weeks and they require deeper diagnostics.

Bibliography:Internal Szczeklik 2018/19Internet portal www.mp.pl