Do Children's Symptoms Get Worse At Night?Why is it that your 5-year-old’s fever, congestion, and pain suddenly worsen at nightfall when the pediatrician’s office is closed?

Is it simply a matter of your weary child noticing their symptoms while lying quietly in bed? Maybe. But there are also real changes occurring late in the evening and during sleep, which may contribute to increased severity in their illness symptoms.


At bedtime, your sick child’s anxiety may grow simply because of the dark or imagined monsters under the bed. Isolation and silence at nighttime may also contribute to how they perceive their discomfort.

Physical Changes

During sleep, a child’s symptoms may grow more severe. For example, with an ear infection, lying down is painful because of an increase in  fluid in the ear canal (which places pressure on inflamed ear tissue). This explains earaches (and crying!) flaring up in the middle of the night. Also, fever burns in the evening, and prevalent health conditions such as asthma worsen at night.

Asthma affects 20 million Americans and involves a narrowing and clogging of the bronchi tubes in the lungs. At night bronchi narrow in everyone, increasing resistance to air flow. Not a problem for kids without asthma, but in asthmatics such constriction at night may bring on an attack.


Chronobiology relates to circadian rhythms and how internal timing mechanisms affect our biology. At night, two important internal hormones that relax the airway—cortisol (a steroid) and epinephrine (adrenaline)—taper off. In fact, since both hormones have an anti-asthma effect on the body, synthetic versions are administered to break severe asthma attacks.

Allergens in Bedroom

Unfortunately the air children breathe at night in their rooms may host common allergens including pet dander and dust mites which can set off a reaction.

Comfort Ideas for Nighttime

In addition to your pediatrician on speed dial, it may be possible to ease your child’s pain and illness at night by keeping these items close at hand:

• Compassion, patience and lullabies
• Rocking chair, ice pack and soft music
• Children’s antihistamine
• Children’s pain reliever
• Humidifier
• Ear drops
• Popsicles
• Thermometer
• Saline nose spray

Michele Ranard is a professional counselor/tutor and a freelancer.

Published: April 2013

  • Another fun cover shoot!

  • Help for families with speical needs

  • San Diego Travel Guide Out & About With Kids Coming Soon!


  • San Diego Family Magazine

    San Diego Family Magazine

    Have you ever read something great in a magazine and then been frustrated because you can't remember where you put it? Well, so have we! That's why we think it's a fabulous idea to have the entire publication available to read online! Simply click the link below and use the arrows to turn the pages. You can search by area, event, location, or advertiser.

    Click Here to Read Online

  • Out & About

    Out & About

    All dressed up and no where to go? With Out & About, you'll never have to utter (or hear) the words "I'm bored" again!  Use this resource to find oodles of fun things to do in specific areas of San Diego County.

    Click Here to Read Online

  • Flourishing Families

    Flourishing Families

    Resources for Families with Special Needs

    Flourishing Families is the Parent Resource Guide for Children with Special Needs that contains over 950 resources in San Diego County. Read informative articles that offer help and encouragement to families with special needs. Sign up to receive our bi-monthly eNewsletter, keeping you connected to current and relevant information in the community. Ready to get out of the house? When you join our online community, you'll also discover fun family-friendly activities and events.

    Click Here to Read Online

About Us

From its humble origins as a black & white, tabloid-style newspaper, the goal has been to "provide educational articles, resources & information with a focus on family issues."

Learn more.

Find Us On...

Join other parent enthusiasts on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and other social networks!

Advertising Information

Reach out to San Diego's biggest consumer segment and help your business grow!

Learn more.

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!