Difficulty breathing in children


There are a number of causes that disrupt the regulated exchange of oxygen in the child's lungs and must be clarified. Breathing disorder is the most common cause of death in children under one year of age. Difficulty breathing is noticeable in children through nostrils, rapid breathing, retraction of the chest and so-called rocking breathing. The lips and nails or the mucous membranes only turn blue when the child's undersupply is far advanced and when the blood oxygen saturation is less than 4g / dl. Disturbances in consciousness, such as restlessness or clouding, also indicate a relatively pronounced lack of care for the child.

Initial measures

As First measure you should definitely calm down the child, because every patient with shortness of breath panics, and this makes the shortness of breath even worse. Is it a stable shortness of breath, i.e. the child is responsive, shows an increased work of breathing with the nostrils, etc. the room air should be secured. This can be done by opening the window, loosening the child's clothing, creating access to fresh air and doing breathing exercises with the child (specify a calm breathing rate). A doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. In the case of unstable breathing difficulties (child is blue / cyanotic, no longer responsive), an intubated Ventilation be done in an intensive care unit.

Common causes and their therapy

Causes of shortness of breath in a child can include the so-called pseudo-Krupp syndrome. This is a viral inflammation of the lining of the larynx and bronchi. The most common viruses are: Parainfluenza viruses, influenza viruses, rhinoviruses and RSV. In addition to shortness of breath, the child also has an audible rushing breath noise (inspiratory stridor), hotness and barking cough when inhaling. Depending on the severity, the pseudo-croup syndrome is divided into four different stages. The aim of the treatment is to reduce the swelling of the mucous membrane. This is done using simple methods, such as moistening the breath with a wet washcloth on the nose or running the shower, but also the administration of cortisone must be considered. In very severe forms, the pseudo-croup attack must be treated by intubation with oxygen or adrenaline.

Separate from the pseudo croup is the so-called Epiglotittis, which is mainly through Haemophilus influenza B Bacteria. This is an inflammation of the epiglottis, which can be accompanied by a thickening and thus an obstruction of the airway. Here, too, the child usually has an inspiratotic stridor. In addition, there is also increased salivation, lack of voice (aphonia) and a high fever. It is an absolute emergency that must always be treated in hospital and must always be carried out in preparation for intubation with artificial respiration. The therapy takes place through antibiotic treatment via infusion.

Do you suspect a foreign object in your child's nose? - Then read the following article: Foreign bodies in the nose - what to do?

Another cause of a respiratory emergency is the Asthma attack This is characterized by the presence of shortness of breath, coughing and dry breathing noises, which are known as wheezing and humming, and which the doctor can listen to using a stethoscope. Most infections are through Viruses, particular physical exertion and contact with an allergenic substance are the cause of an asthma attack. When making a diagnosis, it is important to ask whether there has been an asthma attack before, whether there is an occurrence in the parents or siblings, or whether there is a general tendency to Allergies (hay fever, Neurodermatitis etc.) in the family. As a first measure, you should raise the child's upper body, talk to the child reassuringly, give oxygen via a nasogastric tube and give Salbutamol perform, which is intended to expand the bronchi. Depending on the severity of the asthma attack, one may also be necessary Cortisone administration or to take a continuous dose of salbutamol.It is important to pay attention to the side effects of this intensive therapy, which can manifest themselves in restlessness, tremors and reduced blood potassium levels (Hypokalemia).

Children under chronic cough, recurring Pneumonia and sometimes symptom-free intervals could have inhaled a foreign body unnoticed by the parents (peanut, etc.). In this case, only bronchoscopy will help to remove the foreign body. In the event of acute obstruction of the airways due to inhalation, the seated child should be hit 3 times on the back between the shoulder blades with the flat of the hand. This should be the case with young children and school children Secret maneuvers be performed. To do this, the helper stands behind the patient and grasps him with both arms. The helper forms a fist with one hand and places it between the patient's navel and chest. With the other hand he grips his fist and pulls it upwards with a jerk. The resulting overpressure is intended to transport the foreign body upwards. According to the latest findings, if these maneuvers are unsuccessful, the child should be ventilated, which aims on the one hand to supply the child with the necessary oxygen and on the other hand to convey the foreign body further into the lungs instead of outside. The idea is that at least one lung can be ventilated and the child's life can be saved under certain circumstances.

Difficulty breathing while exercising

Shortness of breath in children it can occur in different everyday situations and have very different causes. In many cases an increasing shortness of breath occurs especially under physical exertion, such as for example sporting activities on. Unsporting children who do not move a lot begin to pant and gasp for air even when they are not exercising much. In contrast, children who do sport regularly have a higher one Perseverance and get out of breath more slowly. Heavy physical exertion can lead to a Constriction of the bronchi come as these slowly begin to pull together.

The airways become narrower and this can restrict the exchange of air. In order to counteract the shortage of breath, the affected children increasingly use their Auxiliary respiratory muscles a. The difficult breathing can be recognized by the nostrils and indentations in the spaces between the ribs. If children experience frequent breathlessness during sporting activities, a medical evaluation respectively. Because the shortness of breath can also be the result of lung or heart diseases, as well as congenital malformations of the child's upper and lower airways.

Increased shortness of breath during exercise can also be due to a Asthma disease of the child. The narrowing of the bronchi caused by exertion leads to an increase in the resistance in the airways and makes it difficult to breathe out air. In addition to vigorous physical exertion, cold air or inhaling allergens from the environment can also trigger such an attack.

Read more about the topic here: asthma

Shortness of breath on exertion

Difficulty breathing during exertion can indicate a disease of the respiratory tract or heart in children. A Heart failure is rarer in children than in adults, but can also be caused by a genetic defect or malformations are already congenital. Children who experience shortness of breath, exhaustion and even with little physical exertion fatigue should be examined for possible heart failure.

Read more about the topic here: Heart failure and shortness of breath

When children are exerted, shortness of breath occurs in most cases as a result of a asthmatic disease on. This is a chronic inflammation of the airways, which leads to an increased sensitivity of the airways to various external stimuli. The chronic irritation leads to a narrowing of the airways, which is significantly increased, especially under stress, and can lead to shortness of breath, acute shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest. The acute shortness of breath triggers one in the children Fear of suffocation out. Again, this fearful feeling can make the shortness of breath worse.

Shortness of breath from coughing

Shortness of breath as a result of a Cough or in combination with a cough in children, can also have various causes. Children under one always recurring, long-lasting, chronic cough can swallow small objects very quickly and unnoticed. This can be, for example, small game figures, but also marbles, pearls or nuts. Children like to put objects in their mouths that are caused by a Cough attack be swallowed, become lodged in the efferent airways and obstruct them. In this case it can lead to an acute, rapidly increasing shortness of breath, which in the worst case leads to suffocation or acute Apnea can lead. Therefore, if there is the slightest suspicion of a foreign body, a reflection of the airways with the possibility of removing the foreign body should always be carried out.

Read more about the topic here: Chronic cough

Breathlessness when sleeping

Difficulty breathing in children, which occurs mainly at night or during sleep, is in most cases a consequence of the so-called Pseudo croup disease. This is a viral disease of the larynx and bronchi, which occurs mainly in the cold winter months. The affected children suffer from a strong, barking cough and hoarseness. Inflammation of the mucous membranes leads to severe swelling with obstruction of the larynx or bronchi. This triggers acute shortness of breath.

Read more about the topic here: Pseudo croup baby

The sick children are often noticed by their shallow and rapid breathing and when they breathe in a clearly audible, rustling noise can be heard. In order to counteract the shortness of breath quickly, it helps to open the window so that cold air can penetrate, to moisten the air and to give it Cortisone. With a very strong expression of one Pseudo croup attack can even do one Intubation with oxygen and Adrenaline injection become necessary. Another cause of shortness of breath in children, which occurs at night or while sleeping, is the child's sleep apnea syndrome. Children who suffer from so-called sleep apnea are often noticed by heavy snoring or long pauses in breathing during sleep.

In addition to snoring, breathing disorders in the form of holding one's breath, shallow breathing and long pauses between the individual breaths are evident. The air has to be drawn into the lungs with increased effort. The children don't have enough air to Oxygen exchange and there is shortness of breath. The oxygen level in the blood in the Normal range being held. In addition to the shortness of breath, there is also increased stress that affects the child's body. Often the affected children also fall through one Hyperactivity during the day on.

Difficulty breathing after a fall

The occurrence of shortness of breath in children can also occur as part of a fall. As a result of a fall, children can quickly get one Bruised ribs which can lead to breathing-dependent pain in the chest area. Since the pain is aggravated by the breathing process, children try to avoid it reflexively by breathing more shallowly and slowly. This shallow breathing leads to an increasing Shortness of breathbecause the gas exchange in the lungs cannot take place efficiently enough. In the course of a fall, bruises can also occur Fractures of the ribs come.

Read more about the topic here: Bruised ribs what to do

In the worst case, a broken rib can injure the lungs and it can become a Pneumothorax arise. Physiologically, there is a negative pressure between the lungs and the wall of the chest, which contributes to the expansion of the lungs. If this negative pressure is lifted by an injury, the lungs collapse. The children stand out due to severe shortness of breath, congested neck veins and a weakened breathing noise. In this case it needs an immediate emergency treatment otherwise the child may suffocate.

Shortness of breath with fever

fever occurs in children in most cases under a infection or inflammatory change the upper respiratory tract. Fever is a protective reaction of the body. An increase in temperature leads to a mobilization of the body's own defense systems in order to be able to fight various pathogens by themselves. As part of this enormous physical exertion, the fever can often be accompanied by shortness of breath in children, as breathing is made significantly more difficult by the enormous weakness and exhaustion. The body needs the energy reserves to fight against the pathogens. Especially very high fever above 39 ° C represents an enormous burden for the child's body and can strongly influence and inhibit important body functions such as breathing or metabolic processes.

Read more about the topics here: Fever toddler and Fever baby

Mental shortness of breath

The most common psychological respiratory disorder in children is psychogenic hyperventilation. In many cases, this is caused by an acute stressful situation or an anxiety disorder. The children breathe very quickly and deeply in such an attack. As a result, more carbon dioxide is exhaled and the patient develops a feeling of dizziness and acute shortness of breath. To break through the seizure, it helps to breathe in a bag and thereby absorb the carbon dioxide again. In particularly severe cases, light sedation is needed to calm the children and normalize breathing. In contrast to asthma, mentally induced shortness of breath often occurs at rest and without a special trigger. Often examinations show no abnormalities and medication is ineffective.

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Difficulty breathing in children what to do?

The first and, above all, the most important action taken under the Shortness of breath Should apply to a child, that is keep Calm. Parents of the affected children should ensure a calm environment, do not panic and try to calm their child down. Strength Restlessness, an increasing Feeling anxious and Palpitations lead to a further increase and aggravation of the already existing shortness of breath. If the child can be calmed down, breathing exercises that encourage calm, deep breathing should be attempted.

Also drinking from cold liquids can relieve shortness of breath by moistening the airways. Inhaling cold air can help improve breathlessness. In the case of asthmatic complaints, bending the upper body forward or increasing the breathing resistance by using the lip brake often helps. If conservative measures do not help, medication is often necessary.

In acute shortness of breath, with severe Anxiety, unconsciousness, shortness of breath and one Discoloration of the lips or mucous membranes, the emergency doctor should be notified as soon as possible. In the event of an acute obstruction of the airway due to swallowing a foreign body, you can try to remove the foreign body by tapping your hand between the shoulder blades 3 times. If you are unsuccessful, you should be admitted to a hospital as soon as possible and an endoscopic removal performed.