KidsMD Health Topics

Respiratory Distress in Children

  • Learning the signs of respiratory distress

    If your child is having difficulty breathing, she may show signs of being in danger of respiratory distress. It is important to learn these signs to know how to respond appropriately.

    Here is a list of some of the signs that could indicate that your child may be in danger of respiratory distress:

    • Increased breathing rate - If your child’s breathing rate increases, this may indicate that she is having trouble breathing or not getting enough oxygen.
       
    • Color changes - A bluish color around your child’s mouth, on the inside of her lips or on her fingernails may occur when she is not getting enough oxygen. Her skin may also appear pale or gray.
       
    • Grunting - You may hear a grunting sound each time your child exhales. The grunting is her body's way of trying to keep air in the lungs so they will stay open.
       
    • Noseflaring - If your child’s nostrils spread open while she breathes, she may be having to work harder to breathe.
       
    • Retractions - our child’s chest will appear to sink in just below the neck or under his breastbone with each breath. This is another way of trying to bring more air into her lungs.
       
    • Sweating - There may be an increase of sweat on your child’s head, but without his skin feeling warm to the touch. More often, his skin will feel cool or clammy. This may happen when his breathing rate is very fast.
       
    • Wheezing - If you hear a tight, whistling or musical sound each time your child breathes, this may indicate that the air passages are smaller, which makes it harder to breathe.
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