Our sweet Ellie has had a nighttime cough for nearly 3 months now. She seems fine during the day, shows no other symptoms, but she has an awful cough at night, both at bedtime when she's dropping off and not infrequently during her sleep as well. It's been a real worry for me. Although I know she's all right, her cough will wake me too and I lay in bed, listening and concerned. We tried everything we could think of: Vicks, a humidifier, elevating her pillow, more frequent intensive cleaning in her room for dust... The GP just loves antibiotics and put her on course after course for nearly a month until I finally put a stop to it. Weeks passed without treatment, and she didn't get worse...or better. Internet research pointed again and again to asthma, but the doctor wouldn't hear of it. Finally, I took her to a GP friend of a friend who is not so antibiotic-crazed and more open to listening. She admitted asthma was a possibility but said it was very hard to diagnose in children because the test are very effort-dependent. She felt that it was sinusitis and Ellie needed a steroid nasal spray to open her eustacian tubes. That didn't help either. While I was away, the cough got a lot worse and the original GP diagnosed bronchitis and more antibiotics and ran blood tests. The friend GP gave us a referral back to the ENT who saw Ellie for ear infections over a year ago, and he saw us this week.
He sat us down, asked about why we were there, and without a moment's pause, he declared it asthma. He said anyone who says postnasal drip causes a cough for several weeks was out of date and misinformed, especially when it doesn't respond to any of the treatments the GP had prescribed. He declared it was asthma brought on by allergies. Then, he paused long enough to look at the blood test results the GP had forwarded (we hadn't seen them yet) and smacked his knees in confirmation. Asthma from allergies to dust mites, grasses and cats. He said cases like hers were most often brought on by genetic predisposition to allergy and it's not necessarily the case that exposure to the allergens triggered the response. He said the asthma was always something that was going to happen, whether she was 1 or 90, so we could just be happy it didn't come on earlier. He also said that's where his advice ended, because he referred us to a paediatric respiratory specialist, who will see us next week.