Coughing is one of those things that makes me sit up and listen. When my kids were little, they were sick - ALOT! They ended up in the hospital many times for asthma and pneumonia. So, every time one of my kids starts coughing, it makes me worried.
Son #1 was just coughing before he went to bed. I asked if he had been playing Ultimate Frisbee with his buddies, but he said no. He has exercise induced asthma, so Frisbee games, running, hiking, etc will set off his asthma. Usually I have to remind him to use his inhaler if he's coughing.
He said he noticed his asthma was flaring up the last few nights (he wast telling me this as he was coughing......). I said, "Well - use your inhaler - that's what it's for!" Son #1 said, "Oh....yeah." Sigh.
I heard him coughing before he went to bed, and then during the night. The pollen count is really high right now, and he has allergies. But he always showers before he goes to bed at night. So, that helps the allergies and should also be helping his asthma.
Then he told me that he ran out of his daily controller medicine. Ah ha! No wonder he's coughing! I said, "Well, now you know that the medicine really helps and you should probably get it refilled!"
Did you know you can take a 5 question quiz and find out if your asthma is in control? Asthma.com has an Asthma Control Test you can take.
One of the questions is:
During the past 4 weeks, how often did your asthma symptoms (wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain) wake you up at night or earlier than usual in the morning?
Verywell.com has a chart that shows how severe your asthma is. They list their chart as coming from: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: May 20, 2010. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma
(Trust me - the chart from the Verywell website is a LOT easier to understand!)
It's hard to read, but if you look on the 2nd box, "Nighttime Awakenings", you can see how bad your asthma is.
If you are waking up less than 2 times per month, you have "intermittent asthma."
If you wake up 3-4 times per month, you have "mild persistent asthma".
If you wake up more than once a week (but not nightly) you have "moderate persistent asthma."
If you wake up every night, you have "severe persistent asthma."
Coughing at night is just one of many ways doctors can check to see if your asthma is in control. This is hard to explain in a blog post, so it is best to talk to your doctor. He can see if you need to start on an asthma medicine, or change one that you are on now.
I talk to a lot of people who think it's normal for their asthma to wake them up at night. It's not (unless you are sick with a cold).
So if you are one of those people with asthma that coughs during the night (and your spouse, brothers, sisters, roommates or whoever tells you that you cough at night - listen to them!) Some people don't even realize they are coughing during the night.
If you are, it could be a sign that your asthma needs a little attention.
Call you doc, and you and your family may all sleep a little better.