How To Handle Breathing Problems In Children (3–5 years)

Breathing problems are common in children but this does not mean they should be taken lightly. In fact, if not treated properly and in time, it can prove to be fatal.

By Ashwin Dewan

How To Handle Breathing Problems In Children (3–5 years)

Is your child breathing faster than normal? Does she grunt while breathing? Or snort while sleeping? In most cases, breathing problems in preschoolers depend on the infection. The infection could either be viral or bacterial.

Causes of breathing problems in preschoolers

In most cases, breathing problems in preschoolers are due to viral infections that are common in this age group, or due to bacterial infections. Dr Ramalingam of Fortis Hospital says that non-infectious causes and allergies could also be a factor. Allergies cause narrowing of the air space making the child breathe rapidly to increase oxygen intake. External factors like dust, smoke and pollution also aggravate breathing problems in children, but they are not the primary cause.

Signs and symptoms of breathing difficulties

You should be observant of the signs and symptoms which may signal that your child has breathing difficulty.

1) Your child speaks in a hoarse voice

2) Has fever

3) Nasal and chest congestion

4) Blue skin, lips, or nail

5) Wheezing

Increase in wheezing in preschoolers

According to Mayo Clinic, wheezing is a condition where a child makes a high-pitched whistling sound while breathing. It is associated with difficulty in breathing. In recent years, incidence of wheezing has increased in preschoolers due to lifestyle conditions:

  • Inadequate ventilation in rooms or absence of ventilators.
  • Long hours spend in air-conditioned rooms.
  • Additional irritants like cosmetics, cigarette smoke and use of deodorants.

Breathing problems in children can be distressing for parents. However, this condition is not incurable. Check out ways to treat breathing problems in children in this ClipBook.


Does diet play a role in breathing problem in preschoolers?

To some extent, the diet your child consumes might influence his breathing problem. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may build immunity and prevent breathing problems. Early introduction of cow's milk could be one of the reasons for breathing problems, according to Dr Ramalingam.

Indian children are less susceptible to allergies compared to the children in western countries who consume more processed and fast foods. In recent years, however, Indian children are also consuming more of processed foods leading to breathing problems.

Tests to diagnose breathing problems

Nowadays, certain tests are available to determine the exact nature of allergy causing breathing problems. Two things doctors do at the outset are to check whether the allergy is recurring and whether there is a family history.

When you're sure your child has an allergy, tests to determine hypersensitivity, such as the immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood test are done.

Remedies for breathing problem

Parents need to be aware that breathing problem is not a disease in preschoolers. To begin with, work towards finding a possible remedy. Home remedies like steam inhalation may prove useful but not entirely effective.

Some suggested remedies include:

  • Prevent dehydration: You can give your preschooler water or juice mixed with water.
  • Relieve congestion: Try to relieve congestion by constantly removing mucus from a baby’s nose.
  • Ease breathing: By using a cool-mist humidifier to add moisture to the air.
  • Make the child comfortable: Keep the child away from cigarette smoke.

With inputs from Dr Ramalingam, Director and HOD Paediatriacs, Fortis Hospital, Noida.