Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care cough warning signs wheezing Underlying Cause less serious potentially serious serious Anatomy

Breathing Difficulty in a Child Home Care

Home care for a child with breathing difficulty includes:

  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Take prescription medications as directed.

For more information:

Breathing Difficulty in a Child Cough

Home treatment of a cough in children includes:

  • Avoid respiratory irritants, such as pollution, pollen, mold, dust and chemical fumes
  • Change A/C and furnace filters regularly.
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Drink warm liquids to relieve coughing spasms.
  • Use throat lozenges, but do not use them in children under 5 years of age.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.

Cough medicines:

Dosing Dextromethorphan
Childs WeightDextromethorphan Dose
22 lb (10 kg)5 mg every 8 hrs
33 lb (15 kg)7.5 mg every 8 hrs
44 lb (20 kg)10 mg every 8 hrs
55 lb (25 kg)12.5 mg every 8 hrs
66 lb (30 kg)15 mg every 8 hrs
88 lb (40 kg)20 mg every 8 hrs
110 lb (50 kg)25 mg every 8 hrs
132 lb-adult (60 kg)30 mg every 8 hrs

Cough medication precautions:

Breathing Difficulty in a Child Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a child with breathing difficulty and any of the following:

Breathing Difficulty in a Child Wheezing

Home care for mild wheezing in children with breathing difficulty includes:

  • Avoid exposure to smoke.
  • Avoid cough medicine.
  • Avoid sedative medications.
  • Avoid substances that trigger wheezing.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to remain hydrated.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.

Home care for children who take medication for wheezing includes:
  • Follow asthma home care instructions.
  • Learn to use prescribed inhalers correctly.
  • Use short-acting inhalers every 20 minutes, or as directed by your doctor.
  • Long-acting medications must be used regularly.
  • Learn to use a peak flow meter.
  • Know the peak flow danger zones.
  • Develop a strategy for using your inhaler based on your PEFR reading
  • Stay calm during a wheezing attack.

Peak Flow Zones:
  • Green Zone:
    • A PEFR reading that is 80-100% of personal best represents good control
  • Yellow Zone:
    • A PEFR reading that is 50-80% of personal best represents a moderate attack
  • Red Zone:
    • A PEFR reading that is less than 50% of personal best represents a severe attack and may identify the need for treatment in an emergency department.

Continue to Breathing Difficulty in a Child Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Breathing Difficulty in a Child References
  1. Brown SG. Clinical features and severity grading of anaphylaxis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Aug;114(2):371-6. [15316518]
  2. Fauroux B, Epaud R, Clement A. Clinical presentation of interstitial lung disease in children. Paediatr Respir Rev. 2004 Jun;5(2):98-100. [15135118]
  3. Lea E, Nawaf H, Yoav T, Elvin S, Ze'ev Z, Amir K. Diagnostic evaluation of foreign body aspiration in children: a prospective study. J Pediatr Surg. 2005 Jul;40(7):1122-7. [16034756]
  4. Yoos HL, Kitzman H, McMullen A, Sidora-Arcoleo K, Anson E. The language of breathlessness: do families and health care providers speak the same language when describing asthma symptoms? J Pediatr Health Care. 2005 Jul-Aug;19(4):197-205. [1601025]
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