You probably understand how scary it is to be unable to catch your breath, and children understandably find this feeling highly distressing. Board-certified pediatric pulmonologist Sarat Susarla, MD, specializes in breathing disorders and provides expert diagnosis and treatment of lung conditions in children at the Houston and Sugar Land, Texas, offices of Houston Specialty Clinic. If you think your child has a breathing disorder, call the location closest to you today.
A breathing disorder is a condition that causes your child to have trouble breathing (respiratory distress). It means they’re having to work hard at drawing air into their lungs and could be unable to get enough oxygen.
Children often show symptoms like noisy breathing or difficulty with breathing if they have an upper respiratory infection like a cold. Colds and flu can lead to an infection that causes airways to produce large amounts of mucus or phlegm, which can make it hard to breathe.
In most cases, this type of breathing difficulty passes as your child recovers from the infection. Whether they have a cold or not, there are symptoms you should look out for so you know when your child needs medical attention.
If they have a breathing disorder, your child might be very short of breath or struggling for every breath. Their restricted breathing might mean they have difficulty speaking or crying. Your child might make a noise as they breathe in and out, or be wheezing.
Croup can cause a noise called stridor, which is a tight, harsh sound a child makes when they inhale. Breathing disorder can also make your child breathe much faster than normal.
Retractions are when your child’s ribs pull in with every breath, indicating their body is desperately trying to get every bit of oxygen out of the air. Their lips or face might start turning blue because of a lack of oxygen. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.
Conditions your child might have that typically cause breathing problems include:
Children might experience breathing difficulties if they have a foreign object stuck in their airway, such as a small toy.
Exercise can often trigger a breathing disorder known as exercise-induced shortness of breath or exercise-induced asthma. Your child might quickly get short of breath when exercising or playing sports, a problem that worsens as they continue to exercise.
They might also wheeze or have a cough and say their chest feels tight. They won’t be able to perform as well, they feel excessively tired after exercise or playing sports, and they need a longer recovery time than before.
The treatment Dr. Susarla recommends for your child’s breathing disorder depends on the nature of their condition and its severity. First, he’ll want to conduct a physical exam and look at your child’s medical history and current symptoms.
Dr. Susarla might also need to run pulmonary function tests to check your child’s breathing and the oxygen levels in their blood. Once he makes a diagnosis, Dr. Susarla can recommend the most effective treatments, such as inhalers if your child has asthma.
To find out why your child has a breathing disorder and get them the help they need, call Houston Specialty Clinic today.