Dr. Corinne Masur A few weeks ago a mother came in wondering if her daughter’s complaints in the night were real. Her daughter had had a virus but was now largely over it. And yet she kept waking up and complaining that she was scared. Was this a manipulation designed to get mom to sleep in her room again as she had when she had been so sick? Or was something else going on?
The little girl, who was 4, had clung to her mother and said she was scared over and over. Finally and with a great deal of questioning, the little girl told her mom that she felt as if she couldn’t breathe.
Again, the mother wondered: Is this real? Or does she just want me to stay in her room?
They had been to the pediatrician AND they had been to a pediatric allergist. The mother had been worried previously about her daughter’s breathing, but both the pediatrician and the allergist chalked her occasional wheezing up to allergies. A nasal spray was prescribed as was an inhaler, which the mother was told to use sparingly.
Periodically the same scene had unfolded in their house over the past winter: a virus followed by days of inability to sleep through the night and scared feelings at night.
Finally this mother took her daughter to a different allergist who diagnosed asthma, and advised greatly increased use of the inhaler as well as a pediatric attachment to the inhaler so the little girl would actually get the medication being delivered by the device. The mother was relieved to finally have an answer as to what was going on. But she also felt guilty that her child had suffered for months without receiving the correct care.
So, if your child is scared at night following an illness or in combination with other physical complaints OR if your child complains of acute stomach pain, eye pain, ear pain – or ANY pain – TRUST YOUR CHILD.
Or, as they say, trust and verify. Take your child to the doctor and if your have doubts about that doctor’s opinion and the complaints continue, take your child for a second opinion to another doctor, to see if there is an underlying illness that is causing your child’s distress.
If there is no physical cause for your child’s night time behavior THEN you can start to work on the feelings side of night-time waking.
And stay tuned for posts on THAT subject!