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 Children 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 Children 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 Children Warning Signs

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

Breathing Difficulty in Children 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 Children 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 Children 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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