Wheezing coupled with a dry cough is the telltale sign of asthma. “People use the word wheezing for a lot of different sounds,” Dr. Brown says, “but in asthma, it’s a whistling coming from inside the chest, more often when breathing out than breathing in, but sometimes both.”
Unlike a typical viral cough, which gets worse at bedtime but clears up after a while, the asthma cough can really get going in the middle of the night and doesn’t go away. “It’s not just a few coughs here and there,” Dr. Brown says. “It’s 20 to 30 minutes of sustained coughing.”
When to see a doctor for a wheezing cough
The wheeze is your call to action. If your child has an asthma diagnosis, you might already have an asthma action plan. (If you don’t, ask your doctor.) If not, get them checked out by their primary care provider. And as always, if your child seems to be struggling to breathe, seek emergency care right away.