Is it just your imagination or do kids really get sicker at night? Learn why many childhood illnesses get worse at night, and how to help your little ones get better fast.

In the dark of the night

From asthma to earaches to croup, here's why your child might be more ill at night -- and what to do about it.

Asthma and allergies

Anyone who has a child with asthma or allergies can testify that symptoms often get worse at night. One reason behind this is that the body's natural cortisol levels drop at night, which can cause an increase in asthma symptoms because cortisol has a preventative effect on asthma. At the same time, histamines (allergy-causing triggers) rise at night simply because of exposure. Many of the things kids are allergic to are in abundance in bedrooms. Mattresses and pillows harbor large amounts of dust, dust mites and pet dander, which can seriously aggravate symptoms. One way to combat this is to buy an allergen-proof mattress cover and to wash your bedding often.

Tips for an asthma-healthy home >>

Stuffy nose

When you have a cold, it can be hard enough to breathe easy during the day with a stuffed up nose. But when you lie down at night, membranes swell and make passages that much smaller. If your baby is having a hard time breathing due to a stuffy nose, try using a hospital-grade nasal bulb syringe to remove the mucous. Sucking snot isn't anyone's favorite activity, but it will help your little one sleep easy. For toddlers and older kids, oscillococcinum is a great homeopathic remedy that can help reduce the severity of colds and flus if they start taking it within the first 24 hours of when symptoms start.

How to use homeopathy in your family >>

Earache

If your kids are already suffering from an earache, the effects of gravity when lying down can make them feel even worse. Simply put, fluid in our bodies settles in the membranes between the ears and nose, making those passageways smaller and adding pressure to already sensitive tissues. Ibuprofen can help to reduce inflammation. For a more natural approach, try Wally’s Ear Oil. This blend of essential oils and herbs can do wonders to soothe sensitive and irritated ears.

More on how to prevent childhood ear infections >>

Croup

The first time you hear your child bark like a seal, you will probably want to run to the emergency room. Croup is famous for getting worse at night because swelling in the voice box and airways is always worse when kids are lying down. Although the cough sounds frightening, there are some simple things you can do to ease the symptoms of croup very quickly. Taking your child outdoors into the cool, refreshing nighttime air can help ease a croup attack. You can also run the shower in the bathroom, and the steam will help to loosen the airways. If the croup is serious or does not respond to home remedies, make sure to visit the doctor. Your child may need steroids or a breathing treatment.

Fever

What makes kids' fevers spike the highest in the dark of the night? Turns out, the body’s basal temperature happens to be a little higher naturally at night, so fevers also peak during this time. You can alternate using children's Tylenol or Motrin to keep a fever from spiking too high while your child sleeps. If the fever is manageable, it may be a good idea to let it ride so it has a chance to do its natural work of fighting off infection in the body.

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Comments

Comments on "Why do kids get sicker at night?"

Amy June 23, 2012 | 2:03 PM

It is interesting how children get sicker at night. I've never thought of that before but it definitely is true. I think another reason for this is that at night you are relaxed and more "focused" on the illness, whereas during the day you are out and about and not thinking or focusing on how you feel.

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