When Your Child’s Changes in Breathing Should Be A Concern

Woman with son doing inhalation with nebulizer at home. Pediatric Pulmonary doctor's visit has been scheduled.

Hearing your child struggle to breathe or have abnormal breathing can be terrifying and alarming. While some breathing changes are minor or temporary, most breathing changes should be taken seriously. Breathing is critical to the body’s functioning and the body cannot survive for long without actively receiving oxygen.

Breathing changes can occur in response to a number of environmental or genetic factors. Children can start exhibiting respiratory conditions from early infancy through adulthood. It is important to recognize what changes in breathing and what to do to help your child. If ever concerned about your child’s breathing seek medical attention immediately or call 911.

What Should You Do if Your Child is Not Breathing?

If your child is unresponsive and stops breathing, this is very serious. Contact 911 for immediate medical help and start CPR immediately. 

If your child is responsive and stops breathing but begins again within a few seconds, take your child to the emergency room. Sudden lapses in breathing are a concern that needs to be addressed immediately. However, if your child is crying or upset and has an involuntary breathing hold, this may not be a major concern. Children from six months to six years of age can have “breathing spells.” This is when they are upset or crying and have involuntary moments without breathing but breathing resumes. If your child’s breathing spell results in a seizure or unconsciousness then seek emergency help immediately.

What to Do if Your Child is Having a Hard Time Breathing?

If you notice your child is struggling with breathing, seek medical attention immediately. There are a number of reasons why this could occur and will require medical intervention. The best option is to either visit the pediatric emergency room or call 911.

If your child is suffering from a choking episode but the object is dislodged, it is still important to seek medical care to ensure there are no long-term impacts.

What if Your Child is Experiencing Abnormal Patterns in Breathing?

An abnormal pattern in breathing might be suddenly taking rapid, short breaths, temporary wheezing, or persistent coughing. Sometimes these abnormal breathing patterns might be due to physical exercise or environmental pollutants like smoke. However, these need to be discussed with a medical professional to ensure there are no underlying serious causes. Healthcare professionals will evaluate the abnormality and provide a plan to help your child. Common causes for abnormal patterns in breathing can be chronic conditions like asthma or acute conditions like pneumonia.

If you have concerns about your child’s breathing, the medical team at Newport Children’s Medical Group is here to help address your child’s needs. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Reda at Newport Children’s Medical Group.