Kids' Nighttime Maladies - Home & Family

Dr. JJ has tips on how your child can get a better night’s sleep.

How Can We Help Alleviate a Child's Discomfort?

First make sure that the dose of fever reliever you are using for your child is the right one – too many parents follow the instructions on the bottle (based on averages) rather than dosing based on a child’s weight – a more effective strategy.  Give your child cool fluids, and warm baths – forget tepid or cold baths – they give children the chills and drive inner temps up. Think of your child with fever as a radiator – you want him to LOSE the heat by radiating – so light clothing is also recommended.

When Should You Go to the Doctor?

If your child with fever is eating, drinking, aware and even playful, let fever do the work to get over an illness. However, if your child is listless, won’t eat or drink or is very uncomfortable, or fever lasts more than 3-4 days without an explanation, or if fever in a baby, especially under 4 months, to your doc you go!

Why Do Kids' Asthma and Allergy Attacks Worsen at Night?

Cortisol provides a protective cushion during the day for a child with asthma – decreasing swelling of the inside of the airways, and holding back histamine release.  At night, especially if a child has been triggered by smoke, a viral illness, or even a day in the park, cortisol isn’t there to protect and as a result airway linings swell, and histamine elevations cause excessive mucous production in the bronchi, leading to coughing, spasm, and asthma.  For an allergic child, lower cortisol and increased histamine release, coupled with the possibility that dust mites and pet dander are typically highly concentrated around the bed, an allergic child may get worse just by being in his/her bedroom.

How Can We Help?

For children allergic to dustmites, dust or pet danders, keeping the bedroom door closed to prevent animal visitors should be the rule.  A hypoallergenic dust cover for the mattress, box spring and pillow often is helpful.  Talk to your allergist about substituting synthetic material in pillows and comforters if your child is allergic to feathers.  And get rid of miniblinds, dust ruffles, and canopies – they are dust catchers. Vacuum often, or better yet, take carpeting out of the room. For your asthmatic child, make sure that not only are your emergency inhaled medications (bronchodilators)  up to date and in the house, but that your child’s controller medications (inhaled steroids) are being regularly given, especially during cold and flu season. 

Why Are Earaches Worst at Night?

Pain is worse at night, again because of low cortisol levels. Lying down also backs up drainage into the middle ear, causing pressure on the eardrum and pain.  With swimmer’s ear, even the ear touching a pillow can cause extreme discomfort, and pain is always worse without daytime distractions

How Can We Help Alleviate the Pain?

Alleviate pain with oral pain relief.  If your child has had a cold, and develops an earache, you can put some warm olive oil into the ears and plug with cotton (if there are no PETubes or drainage). The oil coats the eardrum and can soothe pain to get you through the night until you can see your doc the next day. Sleeping on a warm compress helps as well.  For kids with ear pain, no colds, and a history of being at the pool, the beach, submerged, oral pain relief overnight is the name of the game, as you don’t want to put anything into that ear except medication – otherwise there may be more pain. For prevention of swimmer’s ear, routinely dry the ears and instill 3-5 drops of white vinegar or rubbing alcohol in each ear after swimming, shake it out, and dry gently with a blow dryer on cool. This changes the environment of the ear canal and can prevent those painful episodes.

When To Go To The Doctor?

If the pain continues in the morning or your child and your child is still miserable, call your doctor.

Kids’ Nighttime Maladies - Home & Family

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