Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Breathing Difficulty in Children Overview

What is breathing difficulty in children?
Breathing difficulty, or shortness of breath, is the feeling that the act of breathing requires more effort than usual. Breathing difficulty is a common symptom of heart or lung disease. Breathing difficulty may occur at rest, be associated with exertion, occur only when lying flat, or cause waking in the middle of the night. A situation that triggers breathing difficulty can provide an important clue to the underlying cause.

What are the symptoms of breathing difficulty in children?
There are several important signs of severe difficulty breathing such as rapid respiratory rate, rib retractions, wheezing, nasal flaring, cyanosis, and use of accessory muscles.

How does the doctor treat breathing difficulty in children?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Options include oxygen, antibiotics, and bronchodilators to reverse wheezing. Breathing difficulty that is due to congenital heart disease may require surgery.

Continue to Breathing Difficulty in Children Evaluation

Last Updated: Aug 24, 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
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  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]
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