Symptoms of Breathing Difficulties

Wheezing and congestion are just two breathing difficulties your child may experience. Learn about the signs and treatment.

If your child is having a breathing problem, observe your child's breathing pattern and describe it based on the questions below; the information will help your doctor to diagnose the problem.

  • When did the breathing problem start?
  • Did anything seem to trigger the attack?
  • Did the breathing problems start suddenly? Did they happen gradually over time?
  • Does your child have other symptoms such as a fever or a cough?
  • Is there a family history of asthma?
  • Does your child seem to be very sick? What is child's condition?

The most common causes of breathing difficulty in children are asthma and respiratory infections like croup, bronchiolitis and pneumonia. However, there are two very serious conditions that can also cause very sudden breathing difficulties: epiglottitis and choking.

Symptoms and Signs of Breathing Difficulties

Breathing problems can signal a serious illness. Not all of them require medical attention, but you should be aware of the symptoms that do. Breathing difficulties can crop up in children at any time. Spot the signs of below:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Raspy breaths and rapid breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing that sounds like a seal barking
  • Sucking or chest caving in, or retraction
  • Fever
  • Nasal flaring
  • Nasal and chest congestion
  • Blue skin, lips, or nails

If your child is breathing rapidly and wheezing on exhalation but not coughing, this can be a sign of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs that can damage the lung tissue if not given immediate medical attention. Take your child to the emergency room, especially if she is also blue and/or has a high fever. If your child is wheezing and complaining of shortness of breath, this can be a sign of asthma. Asthma is a medical emergency if the prescribed asthma medication does not alleviate breathing symptoms, there is a fast heart rate, the fingernails appear blue, your child is having trouble walking or speaking and has chest retractions even after sitting upright.

Treatment for Breathing Difficulties

Antibiotics may be prescribed if breathing difficulties are caused by a bacterial infection. If your child is diagnosed with asthma, the doctor will prescribe an inhaler or other medication.

Copyright ? 2012 Meredith Corporation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles