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There’s nothing more frightening than a child struggling to breathe. There are many causes of breathing problems in children: pneumonia, asthma, allergies and foreign objects, just to name a few. Whatever the cause, having your child evaluated and treated by a physician as quickly as possible is paramount to a positive outcome. How do you know when breathing problems in children are an emergency and when they’re not? Because symptoms range between subtle and obvious, it’s sometimes difficult to tell.
A child with a cold will have different symptoms than a child with a foreign object stuck in their throat. Familiarizing yourself with a wide-range of symptoms will help you differentiate between mild symptoms and those that are life-threatening:1
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not sure if your child’s breathing problem is serious, no one will fault you for calling 911 if it turns out that it’s not. There are some signs and symptoms of respiratory distress in children that should always warrant emergency medical attention. According to WebMD, call 911 if your child:2
The most important thing in any medical emergency, especially when it involves a child, is to remain calm. If your child sees that you’re upset, it will only increase their level of anxiety which may worsen their symptoms.
While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, implement the following steps:3
Breathing problems in children should always be taken seriously. For more tips on how to manage them, talk to your pediatrician.
Author: Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN