Tens of thousands of people are brought to hospital emergency departments across the world every year due to distress caused by shortness of breath.

Shortness of Breath is commonly classified as experiencing difficulty in getting sufficient oxygen that the body needs to function correctly. In other words, it happens when the lungs are not getting enough oxygen in or not getting enough carbon dioxide out. It is also known as dyspnea, where you start breathing faster and feel your breath becoming shallower.

One in five children suffer from asthma, a chronic lung condition that can cause breathing difficulties and wheezing. They may also experience dyspnea acutely on exertion, such as climbing a few steps.

Symptoms of shortness of breath includes nostril flaring, grunting and rapid or shallow breaths amongst many others. Parents ought to take breathing problems and these symptoms seriously as they are often a strong sign of a potentially grave health problem, such as asthma, heart problems, lung disease and pneumonia. Thus, it is highly imperative to understand what causes shortness of breath in children in order to administer the timely and correct treatment to avoid severe repercussions.

Some causes of shortness of breath are anxiety, bronchiolitis, chest infection, diphtheria, croup, pulmonary embolism, anemia, poor physical conditioning, obesity, interstitial fibrosis, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

Some precautionary measures for your children:

  • Keep away from smoke
  • Get sufficient rest and sleep
  • Exercise daily
  • Have a healthy coping mechanism in times of stress
  • Eat well and regular meals

You may also want to look out for tell-tale signs of a sudden onset of dyspnea such as air hunger (not getting enough air no matter how deep you breathe), gasping for air, chest pain, choking, fainting spells, pallor, sweating in copious amounts, cyanosis (bluish coloured skin, or coughing with blood spurts.

If your child’s condition does not subside, head to the nearest hospital immediately for treatment. It is highly recommended that you know the medical test results of your child with dyspnea problems and keep a list of the medications your child requires to treat this condition.

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