Breathing Problems (Child)

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What Breathing Problems (Child) feels like: an inability to breathe in and out with ease, whichcan occur suddenly or develop over time, and may be accompaniedby other symptoms, such as wheezing or coughing.

What can make it worse: dust, injury, exertion, breathing in a cer-tain substance, particular times of the year, allergies, stress.Healthy infants can experience “rattling” or noisy breathing until upto 5 months of age, while their respiratory systems develop.

 

Your Doctor Visit

What your doctor will ask you about your child: anxiety, changein voice, drooling, sore throat, trouble swallowing, decreased eating,cough, coughing up sputum, wheezing, blueness of lips or fingers,fever, chills, weight loss, chest pain, ankle swelling, confusion, lethar-gy. The doctor will also want to know if there is a history of exposureto dust or whether the child has inhaled a foreign body, how long thebreathing problem has gone on, and whether the child has ever hada chest X-ray, and if so, what it showed.

Your doctor will want to know if the child or anyone in thechild’s family has had any of these conditions: asthma, lung dis-ease, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, measles,other recent infectious diseases, allergies to drugs, eczema, hay fever,emphysema, respiratory failure.

Your doctor will want to know if the child is taking any med-ications, including: steroids, asthma medications, antihistamines,decongestants, allergy shots, antibiotics, inhalants, beta-blockingagents.

Your doctor will do a physical examination of the child, includ-ing the following: temperature, pulse, respiration rate, weight,checking throat for swollen tonsils and redness, thorough neck exam,checking for flaring nostrils, listening to the chest and heart with astethoscope, thorough skin exam, checking arms and legs forswelling or blueness.

 

WHAT CAN CAUSE BREATHING PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN, AND WHAT IS TYPICAL FOR EACH CAUSE?

Cause: Asthma
What is it: Recurrent attacks of  wheezing, coughing, andshortness of breath  brought on by certain triggers
Typcal Symptoms:  Attacks typically caused by exposure to certain triggers, nighttime cough

Cause: Bronchiolitis
What is it:  Infection of some of the  tiny branches of the lungs
Typcal Symptoms:  Fever, rapid breathing, wheezing, flaring nostrilsmore common in infantsless than 6 months old

Cause: Croup
What is it: Infection in the voicebox
Typcal Symptoms: Barking cough, wheezing,fever, hoarseness, typicallyappears after a cold, morecommon in childrenbetween 6 months and 3years old

Cause: Epiglottitis
What is it:  Infection or inflammation  of the flap in the back of  the throat that blocks air  passages during  swallowing
Typcal Symptoms: Vibrating sound during breathing, muffled speaking, sore throat, trouble swallowing, fever, drool-ing, most common in chil-dren between 3 and 7years old

Cause: Hyperventilation
What is it:  Rapid, shallow breathing
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden onset of breathingtrouble, anxiety, chest pain(adolescents), light-headed-ness, tingling around themouth, numbness inhands, more common inchildren older than 6 years

Cause: Pneumonia
What is it: Infection of the lungs
Typcal Symptoms: Coughing up sputum, highfever, rapid breathing

Cause: Pneumothorax
What is it: “Collapsed lung”: an  abnormal collection of  air between the lungs  and chest wall
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden onset, may occur after chest injury, more common in children with asthma

Cause: Chronic heart  or respiratory  disease
What is it: Long-term diseases that   affect the heart or   respiratory organs, such  as cystic fibrosis or heart abnormalities
Typcal Symptoms: Less-than-average growth,  attacks of shortness of  breath, decreased feeding  (in the newborn), consistent inability to exercise

Cause: Foreign body  aspiration
What is it:  Accidentally breathing in a foreign body that  blocks airways
Typcal Symptoms: Range from wheezing and rapid breathing to gasping, turning blue, and losingconsciousness, typicallybeginning with a gag,gasp, or cough

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