Breathing Problems In Children - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Do your child’s lips have a bluish tinge? Does he also make a whistling noise while breathing? Well, if you can relate your child to the above situations, it is likely that your child is suffering from breathing problems!

Shortness of breath termed as dyspnea (1) can happen in different degrees and due to different reasons in children or adults. Sometimes it could simply be due to stress or anxiety, or it can happen if your child has a serious problem that needs medical care. Are you clueless and curious to know more about the causes, symptoms and treatment for breathing problems in children? Fret not! Go ahead and give this post a read!

Causes Of Breathing Problems In Children

Among the basic causes for child breathing problems are:

  1. Low oxygen levels at high altitudes
  2. Nasal congestion due to colds or infections
  3. Allergic reactions to dust or other substances in the air
  4. Anxiety or stress
  5. Obesity
  6. Choking on food or any foreign body
  7. Fever
  8. Exposure to cigarette smoke

Respiratory problems in children is due to a chronic health condition that requires immediate medical attention.

The causes can be due to but not limited to the following:

  • Acute asthma
  • Heart conditions
  • Extreme allergic reactions
  • Lung related conditions
  • Upper or lower respiratory infections

[ Read: Breathing Exercises For Kids ]

When To Seek Medical Help?

Watch out for these symptoms when you see your child with breathing difficulties and seek medical help immediately.

  1. Choking
  2. Gasping for breath
  3. Wheezing
  4. Coughing up blood
  5. Fever
  6. Vomiting
  7. Cough and cold that gets worse
  8. Blue lips
  9. Flaring of nostrils with each breath
  10. Shortness of breath or rapid breathing

Treatments For Breathing Difficulties In Children:

You will be anxious and scared when your child suffers mild or serious shortness of breath, and the best decision you can make is to take him to the doctor. The doctor may take the following steps to diagnose the cause before he suggests a treatment:

1. He may perform a physical examination of the child.

2. He may also recommend different lab tests such as lung function tests.

3. The pediatrician may advise X-rays depending on the severity of the condition.

4. A CT scan of the chest to may be advisable.

5. The doctor may suggest allergy tests.

6. After diagnosing the cause, the doctor may suggest the following treatment.

7. If your child’s condition is severe, the pediatrician will prescribe suitable medicines depending on his age and the cause of the problem.

8. He may also advise home treatment if your child suffers from moderate degrees of breathing problems.

9. If your child is suffering from acute breathing problem, then the doctor may advise the use of life support measures for your child.

[ Read: What Causes Bad Breath In Children ]

How To Prevent Breathing Problems In Children?

Here are a few steps you can take to prevent the breathing problem from recurring in your child:

  • If your child suffers from breathing difficulty due to allergies, try and avoid the triggers that cause allergies. Avoid furry pets, dust, or any allergen that aggravates the breathlessness.
  • If the doctor has advised medication and inhalation for your child, you must ensure that your child takes them as per the prescription.
  • Make sure your child gets enough rest. Let him also wear comfortable clothes that are not too fitting.

Respiratory Distress In Children

Respiratory distress is a health condition that occurs when your child’s respiratory system doesn’t receive enough oxygen. It is quite common among young children. Disorders of the bronchioles, bronchi, muscles, lungs, nerves, and brain are some reasons for the onset of respiratory distress.

Let’s look at some causes of acute respiratory distress syndrome in children.

  1.  Ingesting foreign bodies.
  1. Laryngomalacia.
  1. Laryngeal edema such as anaphylaxis and inhalation injury.
  1. Infections like croup, epiglottal inflammations, and retropharyngeal abscess.
  1. Bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and bronchiole inflammation.

[ Read: Symptoms Of Croup In Kids ]

Signs And Symptoms Of Respiratory Distress

It is important you have the right knowledge about its symptoms. Here we list some common signs of respiratory distress in children.

  1. Increased breathing rate.
  1. Increased heart rate.
  1. Bluish color around the mouth, at the fingernails, and on the inner side of the lips.
  1. The skin of the child too may appear gray or pale.
  1. You can hear a grunting sound when your child exhales.
  1. Your child’s nose flares open when he breathes.
  1. Your child’s chest appears to sink under your breastbone with each breath.
  1. Wheezing while breathing (1).

Treating Respiratory Distress In Children

There are numerous treatment options for treating respiratory distress in children. Here we list some common treatments to alleviate the condition.

1. Surfactant Replacement Therapy:

Surfactant is a fluid that coats the inner side of the lungs and keeps them open so that your child can breathe easily. Doctors continue to administer surfactant to children until their lungs produce fluid on their own.

2. Breathing Support:

If your child suffers from respiratory distress, he will need breathing support until his lungs start producing enough surfactant. The breathing tube connects to the surfactant producing tube. Breathing support therapy is an effective way to cure respiratory distress and doctors usually combine it with surfactant replacement therapy.

3. Medication Therapy:

Medication therapy includes nasal sprays, acetaminophen, cold and cough medicines, penicillin, zinc, decongestants, corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor blockers, antihistamines, and ophthalmic medications.

4. Oxygen Therapy:

Oxygen therapy concentrates on providing enough oxygen to your little one’s lungs.

5. Allergen Avoidance:

If your child is suffering from respiratory distress, avoid bringing him into contact with pets, house dust mites, outdoor pollens and molds, and other pollutants.

Preventing Respiratory Distress

You can take many steps to prevent respiratory distress in kids. You need to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. Here are some prevention tips.

  • Visit the doctor regularly during your pregnancy.
  • Avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Ensure that your child follows a proper diet.
  • Keep your child away from dust mites, pollens, pollutants, molds, and other allergens.

Seeing your child in distress can make you stressed too. But, remember to stay calm and seek the best medical care to help your child.

Did your child suffer from breathing problems? What did you do to help him? Please share your experience and advice with us here.

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