Breathing problems can have a significant impact on anyone’s life, but issues can be particularly dangerous in young children. Some respiratory problems can be chronic and require ongoing medical care. Other breathing issues can be sudden and may require immediate emergency treatment. Below is a guide for knowing how best to help your child should these symptoms present themselves:
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in which the airways in the lungs go into spasm, narrowing dangerously and preventing the flow of oxygen. Common symptoms include recurring cough, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest or wheezing sounds.
Symptoms of asthma can interfere with children’s ability to sleep, learn, play and engage in sports. Professionals in respiratory therapy can recognize and diagnose asthma from other respiratory conditions. Children suffering from asthma often require ongoing medication and therapeutic measures in order to enjoy normal childhood activities.
Croup is a condition that is associated with childhood respiratory infections. The condition can cause loud, raspy breathing and swollen vocal cords in children. Some parents describe the cough as a “barking” sound. If your child shows signs of croup, try hot water/steam therapy in your bathroom, allowing your child to breath the warm steam that builds up from running hot water. If your child shows interest in things around her and can lie down and sleep, it is probably not a dangerous condition. However, if your child seems to have difficulty breathing, seems feverish or generally uncomfortable or unresponsive, you should take her to the emergency room for professional evaluation and treatment.
Bronchitis is another condition that can cause fever, persistent cough and impaired breathing. Its symptoms are a result of an infection of the small sacs in the lungs. The infection generally occurs after a common cold and can be accompanied by fever and lethargy. Bronchitis is usually treated with antibiotics, decongestant medications and vaporizers used to aid breathing.
Even common items such as fruit, snacks or nuts can pose a choking hazard. If your young child has suddenly difficulty breathing or speaking because of an obstruction in the throat or lungs, try holding her upside-down to use gravity to release the obstructing object, and use slapping your child’s back several times to dislodge it. If this action is not successful, place the child face down over your lap to dislodge it by using a thrust to the abdomen. If you are dealing with an older child, ask her to cough to allow the object to dislodge. If these measures do not work, call 9-11 and begin CPR until they arrive.
Babies and children may experience a variety of breathing issues. When these problems occur, they must be carefully assessed by parents or caregivers to ensure that proper medical care is provided when necessary.
For more parenting tips, check out our Healthy Baby and Toddler Checklist.