Is your child wheezing when breathing? Does she have difficulty breathing? Are you worried it could be a medical condition that needs treatment? If you are worried about your child’s wheezing or are not sure about it, read our post. Here we talk all about what to do when your child is wheezing and how it affects.
What Is Wheezing In Children?
Wheezing is a condition where there is a high shrill noise from the nose or mouth. In most cases, it is accompanied by breathing difficulties. Wheezing is common in children and adults.
According to research, almost 25 to 30 percent infants experience wheezing. Almost 40 percent of all children experience wheezing by the age of three and almost 50 percent of all children experience wheezing when they are six years of age (1).
In children who are less than five years of age, the most likely cause of recurrent wheezing is asthma. In younger children, wheezing occurs mostly due to allergies, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, obs
[ Read: Breathing Problems In Children ]
Causes Of Wheezing In Children:
Children can suffer from wheezing due to different reasons:
- Recurring asthma.
- Epiglottitis – a condition in which the lid of the windpipe swells.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Epiglottitis In Children ]
- Lung cancer.
- Heart failure.
- Anaphylaxis – it is a severe form of allergic reaction that occurs due to an insect bite or as a reaction to some medication.
- Bronchiectasis – it is a kind of chronic lung condition. In this condition, the bronchial tubes widen, causing difficulties in clearing up the mucus.
- Emphysema – it is a condition in which your child gradually falls short of breath. (3)
- A foreign object.
- COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – it is an accumulation of different kinds of lung infections that block the flow of air and cause difficulty in breathing. (4)
- Bronchiolitis – it is a common type of lung infection that creates congestion in your child’s small airways of the lungs, known as bronchioles. (5)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Obstructive sleep apnea – it is a condition in which your child’s breathing suddenly stops during sleep and starts back again.
- Certain medications your child may be on for temporary relief, especially aspirin.
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – it happens mostly in younger children. The condition occurs due to a virus that infects the lungs and the respiratory tract.
- Respiratory tract infection – it happens mostly in young children under the age of two.
- Vocal cord dysfunction – it is a condition that restricts the movements of the vocal chords. (6)
[ Read: Respiratory Distress In Children ]
Symptoms Of Wheezing In Children:
Watch out for the following symptoms in your children that could signal a wheezing condition:
- A musical kind of sound that sounds like a whistle.
- Difficulty in breathing especially when your child exhales.
- A tightness in the chest especially when your child breathes.
- In some cases, the wheezing sound may also come when your child inhales. (7)
Diagnosing And Treating Wheezing In Kids:
To diagnose wheezing in your child, your doctor will go through the following steps:
- Your doctor will first ask you about the symptoms of your child’s wheezing and what could be the possible triggers. Your doctor may ask you questions like does the wheezing start after eating something particular, or does the weather trigger it.
- The doctor will examine your child’s lungs through a stethoscope to understand the intensity of wheezing and where exactly it occurs.
- Doctors may refer your child for an X-ray or a breathing test known as spirometry.
- If required, the doctor may refer your child for some blood tests and other medical procedures.
- If your doctor feels the wheezing could be a result of some allergies, especially food allergies, he might recommend more skin and blood tests.
[ Read: Signs Of Lung Cancer In Children ]
Depending on the cause, your doctor may go through all or some of the following steps:
For Asthma Induced Wheezing:
- A bronchodilator inhaler will help to dilate any constriction in the airways when your child has difficulty in breathing.
- A corticosteroid that your child must inhale.
- A long-acting combination of bronchodilator and corticosteroid.
- A pill that will help control the asthma and reduce inflammation in the airways.
- An antihistamine pill or a nasal spray in case your child has nasal allergies.
[ Read: Nasal Congestion In Children ]
For Bronchitis Induced Wheezing:
- A bronchodilator that will help to ease your child’s wheezing and clear any infection
- An antibiotic in case your child has a bacterial infection (8)
When To Get Medical Assistance For Your Child?
If you notice wheezing in your child, you should schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor right away. In case that is not possible, do get in touch with the doctor over the phone and discuss the symptoms. Your doctor will advise you if it is alright to wait and watch or if your child needs urgent medical attention.
In case your child also has the following symptoms along with wheezing, get your child to the nearest medical facility:
- If your child is wheezing and coughing or having a temperature of 100 degree F or above.
- If your child has trouble breathing and you fear it could lead to a kind of choking.
- In case, your child is choking you will notice a quick swelling and redness in the face. Immediately take your child to the nearest medical center.
- Your child may suddenly start wheezing, and it also brings up a white phlegm or a pinkish or reddish froth.
- Sometimes your child may have wheezing and also have a severe difficulty in breathing – it could be the result of a sudden allergic reaction.
- Your child may be wheezing and coughs up greenish or gray phlegm. It could be the sign of bronchitis or COPD.
- Your child may be wheezing, have severe coughing and also feel a kind of tightening or pain in the chest. (9)
Wheezing is a normal childhood occurrence but keep an eye on the symptoms and your child’s overall condition. In case you feel your child is in discomfort, get immediate medical assistance.
Has your little one suffered from wheezing? What did you do about your wheezing child? Tell us your story here.