Life with a child who has asthma can be frightening when they have a flare up, but it is compounded when it occurs at night. Waking up hearing your child wheezing and coughing not only disrupts everyone’s sleep, but it could mean a trip to the hospital. Many parents wonder, “why is my child’s asthma worse at night?” Let’s get some answers about what is sometimes known as nocturnal asthma (NA).
Symptoms And Dangers Of Nocturnal Asthma
The chances of having asthma symptoms is higher during sleep. Nocturnal asthma symptoms of a tight chest, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing accompanied by sleep disturbance is commonplace, but serious. Most deaths related to asthma happen during the nighttime.
A child with nocturnal asthma is chronically sleepy during the daytime making them more susceptible to falling asleep at school, suffering from decreased concentration and performance. In addition, when a child is overtired, they can be cranky and misbehave.
Parents are likely sleep deprived too, so speak with PediatriCare of Northern Virginia about specific treatments for nocturnal asthma.
No one knows exactly why it is worse during sleep, but there are some known triggers.
Being In A Reclining Position
When your child is lying down there is more accumulated drainage and post nasal drip, increased air resistance, and increased blood in the lungs.
Increased Exposure To Allergens
Your child’s bedding, sheets, pillows, and mattresses are literally crawling with dust mites, mold and all types of allergens to trigger their symptoms.
If you live in a warmer climate, most nights the AC is running in the bedrooms. AC causes loss of heat in the airways and partnered with moisture triggers something known as exercise induced asthma.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus leading to the stomach does not close properly after eating. It leads to stomach acid re-entering the esophagus. If your child wakes up with this nasty taste and discomfort, it can lead to aspirating the acid into their airways.
Just sleeping can cause asthma symptoms since it affects bronchial function.
What Parents Can Do
There are a number of preemptive changes you can incorporate into your home to reduce nocturnal asthma.
Try some of the following:
- Frequently wash all sheets and pillowcases in hot water.
- Keep the bedroom area clean of dust. Wipe down shelves, dressers, or anything that can collect dust.
- Never allow an animal to sleep in your child’s bedroom.
- Add some extra pillows or place blocks under the mattress to elevate your child’s head. This will reduce any GERD symptoms.
There are pros and cons to having a humidifier, so speak with your physician before putting one in the bedroom.