Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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

Dyspnea Home Care

Home care for breathing difficulty includes:

Dyspnea Cough in Adults

Home treatment of a cough in an adult with breathing difficulty includes:

  • Avoid respiratory irritants, such as pollution, pollen, mold, dust and chemical fumes
  • Change A/C and furnace filters regularly.
  • Do not smoke and avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Drink warm liquids to relieve coughing spasms.
  • Raise the head of your bed at night and sleep on your left side: this minimizes acid reflux.
  • Use throat lozenges.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.

Cough medications:

Cough medication precautions:

Dyspnea Cough in Children

Home treatment of a cough in children with breathing difficulty 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:

Dyspnea Warning Signs

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

Dyspnea Wheezing

Home care for mild wheezing in someone 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 those 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 Dyspnea 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 Dyspnea References
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  2. Evans SE, Scanlon PD. Current practice in pulmonary function testing. Mayo Clin Proc. 2003 Jun;78(6):758-63. [12934788]
  3. Fedullo PF, Tapson VF. Clinical practice. The evaluation of suspected pulmonary embolism. N Engl J Med. 2003 Sep 25;349(13):1247-56. [14507950]
  4. Karnani NG, Reisfield GM, Wilson GR. Evaluation of chronic dyspnea. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Apr 15;71(8):1529-37. [15864893]
  5. Lee-Chiong T Jr, Matthay RA. Drug-induced pulmonary edema and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Clin Chest Med. 2004 Mar;25(1):95-104. [1506260]
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