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Common Causes of Breathing Difficulty in Children

posted on: 2019-11-01
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Cough and colds are common in children. These are usually harmless and if the cause is a mild viral infection, a good dose of sleep, rest, and lots of fluids is all they need to get better. However, breathing problems that have a more serious etiology can pose a risk to your child’s health and must be attended to immediately.

Signs that your child is having breathing problems:

If you observe any of the following signs and symptoms, bring your child to the nearest urgent care in Palm Beach Gardens for immediate medical treatment:

Fast breathing rate. This is the first noticeable sign that your child has a breathing difficulty. The normal breathing rate in children depends on their age. It’s too fast if it’s more than the following breaths per minute (bpm):

  • 0-5 months: 30-60 bpm
  • 6-12 months: 24-30 bpm
  • 1-5 years: 20-30 bpm
  • 6 years and up: 12-20 bpm

Laborious breathing. It takes more effort for your child to breathe. There is a heavy rise and fall of the chest and the use of abdominal muscles when breathing is noticeable. Flaring of the nostrils when breathing in and grunting when breathing out may also be observed.

Pale of bluish skin color. This means that the child isn’t getting enough oxygen.

Lethargy. The child may appear drowsy, tired, and difficult to stay awake. This means that the body’s tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen needed for energy production.

Abnormal breath sounds. You may hear a whistling or a high-pitched sound when the child breathes, which means that there is an obstruction in the respiratory tract that interferes with air flow. 

4 Common Causes of Breathing Difficulty in Children


Epiglottitis is a bacterial infection characterized by swelling and inflammation of the epiglottis, a small flap of tissue that lies behind the tongue. A swollen epiglottis can block the trachea, obstructing the passage of air into and out of the lungs.


Pneumonia refers to inflammation of the lungs and is caused by a bacterial infection. The most common symptom of pneumonia is a productive cough with a lot of phlegm, which usually looks yellowish or greenish. Other symptoms include body pain and a high fever. Since the lungs are infected, they produce a lot of mucus, impairing gas exchange.

Screenshot-2019-09-18-at-17.01.30-1024x684 Common Causes of Breathing Difficulty in Children


Asthma, or bronchial asthma is a respiratory condition characterized by the narrowing and swelling of the airways and an increase in mucus production. It is usually caused by triggers that the child is sensitive to, such as pollen, animal fur, dust, fumes, and molds. Intense emotion and too much stress can also trigger an asthma attack. Wheezing is a common sign of asthma. This sound is produced because of the narrowed airway.

Read more about what parents should know about childhood asthma in this article.

Foreign body obstruction

If your child appears to be choking and is pointing to their throat, they probably ingested a foreign body. Children below five years of age comprise 98% of foreign body aspiration cases, according to a study. If you suspect that your child has ingested something, don’t panic. Perform the heimlich maneuver as a first aid treatment or call your emergency hotline. Better yet, bring the child to the nearest walk in clinic in Palm Beach Gardens.

Learn more about Urgent Care Palm Beach Gardens

When a child has been diagnosed with these conditions, the best thing to do is work together with the doctor  in walk in clinic, Palm Beach Gardens for a treatment and management plan. Schedule an appointment now or Contact Us for more information.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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