Is EVERY Cough one to be concerned about?

Hello all!  I am fairly new to the asthma world, with our daughter having a very scary episode in July that led to her diagnosis.  She is just 2 1/2 years old.   She and I both have caught a cough that is not very bad right now.  I am pretty sure I got it FROM her.   It's an irritating "scratchy throat" cough.   Nothing that bothers me too much or that I'd blink an eye at a year ago prior to her diagnosis.  I would just try to give her Zarbee's cough syrup and hope she we could get some sleep!  Now with this new diagnosis, every tiny peep has my nerves on edge.  Doctors don't seem to be overly helpful  – it truly seems like they don't WANT to tell me the much because if they say something and then I don't watch her close they don't want to be caught in that web of liability.   So nobody says what kinds of coughs to be wary of.  Last night she coughed 4 or 5 times in a span of 15-20 mins and it started to sound like it could become what I consider irritable and noticeable so I gave her 3 puffs of her rescue inhaler.  Honestly, she pretty much stopped coughing after that and fell asleep.  (I am not sure why that would help a cough?)

Around 4am, I woke her up accidentally when I was checking on her, and she started coughing again.  Nothing CRAZY but enough to fray my sensitive new-to-this nerves, so I gave her another dose of inhaler and again she fell asleep without issue.  

Around 8:30 I gave her 2 more puffs and took her to her child care.   I told her that I am able to leave work right away if I need to and she's been keeping in touch with me through the morning.  Again, like I said, if it werent for this asthma monster, a normal parent wouldn't think twice about this cough more than likely.  I don't know when I am over-reacting.   I figure this first year or 2 is going to be a year of nerves and being overly paranoid. 


I am just seeking a little guidance from those that came before us in this journey.  Is EVERY cough one to be concerned about with asthma?  I am guessing any cough can eventually trigger a bronchiospasm if it irritates the lungs /airways enough.  Is that the main concern?  If I am piecing all these doctors info together right, is this all basically trying to determine HOW sensitive her particular lungs and airways are to the action of coughing? To see if coughs easily trigger spasms or if they dont as easily spasm as some?  Or maybe I am way off on this?  

We have been to 3 doctors – our pediatrician, and 2 pulmonologists at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh and I still feel uncertain.



Comments 15

  • Tiffany F.

    Sorry 2 puffs of inhaler*  (I dont see a way to edit my post so I wanted to make that typo correction)

  • Jen

    Have you tried recording her cough so that the doctor can hear what you're talking about?  Without them hearing it, I can understand why they might be hesitant to give more direction.

  • Tiffany F.

    @Jen this is really the first time we've had a cough like this since her diagnosis.   I have not recorded it yet.   When they are hesitant, it was when I asked for more information on what kinds of coughs to be worried about – there was no concise answer which then I have to take as "every cough I should worry about".  I just wondered what others experience has been

  • Jen

    I hear what you're saying. It is definitely good to hear how others handle different types of coughs with their kids.  As for the doctors, what about this?  When she has a cough, maybe try to log/journal it – describe it a little (has anyone been sick, is it keeping her awake,what meds you might have used, etc)  Perhaps if you go in with a log of some sort, it might give the doctors some more information to be able to help.

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Tiffany! It sounds like you had a really stressful night!

    I agree that trying to figure out what your new normal is can be stressful. Was there an after-hours call service that you could have used?

    Could you ask your daughter's doctor to talk with you so that you can get a better handle on a good sick plan?

    I agree with Jen — recording it can really help doctors see and hear what you're seeing. Maybe while she's coughing now, could you record it either with a video or on your audio memo function of your phone?

    That way, the doctor could hear what you're hearing. 

    I totally get your confusion and your worry. I still remember the time when DD was three and got sick over the weekend. She'd been seen by a general doctor who said she was okay, but I was still worried and took her to see her pediatrician first thing that Monday morning. My normally laid back pedi jumped down my throat, immediately nebbed her, and asked why I hadn't taken her to the ER.

    I learned from that experience to make use of the doc's after-hours call service. 

    When you do talk to the doc, could you ask these sorts of questions?

    • Can you show me an example — either video or audio of different kinds of cough? (Here's a )
    • What sort of cough or coughing pattern can wait until morning to call you?
    • What sort of cough or coughing pattern would you like me to call your after-hours service?
    • What sort of cough or coughing pattern do I need to take her to the ER right away?
    • Would learning the very basics of using a stethoscope help me? Or would you recommend us using a pulse-ox (a device that shows your DD's oxygen level)?

    Hugs … It can be really hard! I hope she feels better soon. 

  • Tiffany F.

    @K8sMom2002 thank you for your reply!  Dad is home with her and I am just finishing up at the office.  He reports that she has a bit of a cough still but he listened to her lungs with our stethescope and has been checking her o2 levels all day and she seems her normal happy self despite the cough.  We had taken her OFF of singulair due to some behavioral issues we THOUGHT might be from that.  Doc suggested getting on it for winter….  considering it……   I wonder if it could help with colds? He seemed to think it may.


    Thanks for asking!

  • K8sMom2002

    Glad she's doing okay — but ugh on the cough! Could it be post-nasal drip? 

    Could you talk to your doc about some alternatives to Singulair? We had to pull DD off for a different reason, and her doc was hesitant at first, too. But then he decided on a slightly different plan of attack. 

    Way to go for the team approach you and her dad are taking — sounds like you guys are keeping a good and careful eye on her!

  • Tiffany F.

    @K8sMom2002 unfortunately her pediatrician said there's no good alternative for her.  So we may have to get back on it.  Maybe it wasn't actually the singulair and just one of the many toddler phases! (I hope!)

    UGH!  her cough is definitely the dry cough per the video and of course the first thing they say is asthma now I need to make a call to the doc before we go into the weekend.  Keep her in your prayers!  

    So sad these kiddos are so affected by things as simple as the common cold!   How in the world do we avoid the cold we live in PA!   

  • Jen

    Tiffany – What did the doctor say about the cough?  How is she doing today?

  • Tiffany F.

    @Jen / @K8sMom2002

    We had a bad weekend! Saturday night was awful.  I was up with her through the night as she'd go into little coughing spells, worried sick of course.  I have the same cough, and it is one of those pesky dry coughs where you feel like you have a tickle in your throat and is hard to kick.  I was so worried she was going to start her lungs up.   We did albuterol twice through the night and had her elevated.  Sunday she slept in til almost 11am after things had calmed down and she stopped coughing. So that threw our day off quite a bit but she was seeming great otherwise, not coughing and playing happily, good appetite.

    Last night SAME THING except doctor had (unwillingly) called her in OraPred – I wasnt going to give her unless she needed and unfortunately did need.   I am being told now by co-workers that orapred shouldnt be given as needed and kids should be weaned onto and off of it on a cycle……..I am so confused!  Doctors never once mentioned this!  I have even heard of some people keeping it for coughing episodes at night?

    Monday morning and I am back to work (exhausted) and she is same – happy, seeming fine during the day, no coughing.  However, nights are a nightmare for us! 

    I am anxious, worried about her and exhausted which doesn't help!    Being a working mom isn't easy to begin with some days but really rocks my nerves with her being sick/asthma.   I am trying to meet some financial goals so that I can stay home with her but I feel like by the time I do, she will be in Kindergarten.   I am just having a super tough time lately all the way around!



  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Tiffany … I so remember those days (and NIGHTS) when my little kiddo would be sick and I would have to stay up all night and then crawl into work the next day. It is so tough. 

    From what I understand, because your body's own natural steroids drop at night, asthma can get worse then. It's really frustrating, but I think you were right to let her sleep when she could. Sleep is really important to healing.

    The prednisone helps reduce the inflammation in the lungs … which can help with the coughing from the asthma.

    Could you call your doctor or pharmacist and ask what the usual dose or taper is with the pred since you're worried about that?

    Part of my DD's sick plan as written by her allergist is a taper of prednisone that we start if she's been sick and has increased use of her inhaler. It's a "step-up" plan — first we increase the regular use of her inhaler whether it seems she needs it or not while she's sick, and then, if no improvement, after a week, we start the taper. The taper is on file at our pharmacy, so we go and pick it up if and when we need it. The prednisone starts off at a high dose, then decreases over several days. That helps the body start back making its own natural steroids. 

    All that, of course, if she doesn't spike a fever or other parts of the sick plan that would send us in a different direction.

    Part of my sick plan is a round of antibiotics. I don't like taking antibiotics, but my doc has seen secondary bacterial infections jump on me way too often after a viral infection. 

    Can her dad give you a break so that you can at least catch a nap or hit the sack early to get some shut-eye? Sleep is so critical for us all!