Can Your Child’s Breathing Turn Into A Life-Long Condition?

Young asian sick girl sitting on bed with oxygen mask

Seeing your child struggle to breathe can be incredibly upsetting for a parent. Does your child cough or wheeze after playing? Or are they having trouble breathing at night?

In most cases, these are normal or treatable, but sometimes they can be symptoms of an underlying condition.

It’s best not to make assumptions about your child’s health since some respiratory problems could be lifelong. As parents, you need to know the signs of breathing issues to arrest serious conditions and lead your child to a healthy life.

Symptoms of Breathing Problems in Kids

As a preventive measure, watch out for the following indications of potential respiratory conditions:

Runny Nose with Cough and Sneezing

This is frequently caused by a cold and followed by a fever. It may also be an indicator of allergy or hay fever. These are common, but if you detect any blood or strange odors, you should consult a doctor.


Coughs are quite commonplace among children and can go away after a few days, but some might sound different than normal.

Barking sounds indicate croup, a raspy and wet cough could be bronchiolitis, and a whooping sound with mucus or vomit may be a sign of whooping cough. If it is dry and occurs mostly at night, your child might be asthmatic. A persistent wet cough could signify chronic illnesses like cystic fibrosis.

When a cough lasts more than three weeks and is accompanied by wheezing, fever, and trouble breathing, see your pediatrician.

Colored Mucus

A common cold is colorless or clear. Colors like yellow, green, or brown indicate an infection.


High temperature is usually a symptom of viral and bacterial infections.


If a high-pitched sound comes out of your child’s chest as they exhale, it is typically caused by infection or asthma.

Causes of Breathing Difficulties in Children

Not all breathing problems require a visit to the doctor’s clinic. Thus, it is important to determine the trigger so you can help them avoid it.

Viral Infection

Frequent culprits are viral respiratory infections (VRIs) from viruses like the coronavirus, influenza virus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Bacterial Infection

Different types of bacteria have been linked to respiratory infections like pneumonia, sinusitis, and influenza. These are often accompanied by cough and shortness of breath.

Other Causes

Physical obstructions in the airways, such as when your child swallows an object, can lead to strained breathing.

Serious Conditions that Cause Difficulty in Breathing


This is a chronic illness where the airways are inflamed and cause irreversible lung damage. It can be induced by allergens (pollen, animal hair), pollutants (smoking, car fumes), irritants (cleaning chemicals), and more.

The CDC reported that asthma affects around 4 million children.

Because there is no cure, once your kid is diagnosed, they may experience symptoms until adulthood. Severe asthma can cause lifelong breathing problems. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage it although remissions may occur.


Pneumonia is caused by an infection of the lungs and is common in kids under 5 years old. It may occur after a cold or strep throat, but vaccines and basic hygiene can prevent it.

Mild pneumonia can often be treated with antibiotics. However, some children may experience major breathing problems, which could be fatal.

Children who have had severe pneumonia may experience lifelong consequences like adult asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis.

Cystic Fibrosis

This hereditary condition affects the outward-secreting glands and can manifest at birth. Some kids display it later. An estimated 2,500 babies in the US are born with it.

Cystic Fibrosis causes an accumulation of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and sinuses, which leads to chronic respiratory issues. It’s a lifelong disease with no cure and needs to be managed with continuous treatments.


A common respiratory infection in newborns and infants, this condition happens when the smaller airways (bronchioles) swell and block the passage of air.

Water and humidifiers can relax airways and ease symptoms of mild bronchiolitis infections.

Bronchiolitis is not lifelong and generally lasts for 1-2 weeks, though it can take longer for some children.

Newport Children’s Medical Group

The proactive things you can do for your child and their breathing problems are to be aware of the symptoms, talk to their pediatrician, and take all necessary precautions.

Don’t ignore a potentially serious health condition when your child seems perfectly fine. Remind them to wash their hands often and cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough to prevent diseases from spreading.

Contact a pediatric pneumonia specialist at Newport Children’s Medical Group today to get your child the help they deserve.