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Why Kids get Sicker at Night

Asthma and Allergies

Why they're worse at night: There are many factors that cause this.  The body's level of cortisol drops at night, and cortisol has some preventive effects on asthma.  Plus, the levels of histaminie rise, aggravating many allergy and asthma symptoms.  Finally, some allergens, such as dust mites and pet dander, may be more prevelant in a child's room, increasing their exposure while they sleep.

What to do: If your child is having more than two flare-ups in a week or if they are not responding well to their medications, their condition is not well controlled and they should be reevaluated by their doctor. Preventive steps can go a long way too.  That may mean keeping your chilld's windows closed, banning Fluffy and Fido from their room, and encasing their bedding in allergy-proof covers.  You can also consider using HEPA filters in your vacuum and HEPA air filters.

Ear ache

Why it's worse at night: Whether the infection is in the middle ear or in the ear canal (also called swimmer's ear) these hurt.  Lying down increases the collection of fluid and puts extra pressure on the inflamed tissue.

What to do: Ibruprofen ( for kids older than 12 months) or acetaminophen can help relieve the ache.  Applying a warm, damp washcloth to your child's ear also can help.


Why it's worse at night: Body temperature rises naturally in the evening, so a fever that was slight during the day can easily spike during sleep.

What to do: First, take your child's temperature.  Any fever above 100.4 in an infant under 3 months warrants an immediate call to the doctor.  Same goes for an elevated temperature in any child that's accompanied by lethary, vomiting, diarrhea, stiff neck or an unusual rash.  Otherwise, try a dose of acetaminophen (tylenol), wait half an hour and check the temperature again.  You can give your child a room-temperature bath and definitely keep her hydrated by offering water, milk, breast milk or juice.  Call the doctor in the morning, she may want you to bring your child in to see her.