Children’s immune systems continue to develop as they grow, so it’s not uncommon for kids to experience illnesses that affect their respiratory system, such as the common cold.
Various respiratory conditions can cause what is known as ‘wheezing’ — and while many illnesses can be managed at home, sometimes you may need to take a visit to your child’s pediatrician if symptoms are severe or persist.
What is Wheezing?
Wheezing is a symptom of many childhood illnesses, and sounds like a high-pitched whistling noise. You’re most likely to hear wheezing when a child inhales or exhales, and it is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.
Interestingly, wheezing can take different ‘tones’ depending on which part of the respiratory system is affected, for example, a narrowing in the lower respiratory system can sound more ‘musical’ than the ‘hoarse’ sound which is made by the upper respiratory system.
What Causes Wheezing?
Wheezing is actually a symptom, and is usually treated by managing the underlying conditions that causes the inflammation and narrowing of the airways.
Wheezing can be caused by short term illnesses such as bronchitis, or be more chronic in nature. You are also more likely to experience wheezing if you have allergies, as a common cause of wheezing is allergic asthma — as well as infections of the respiratory system.
When To Call A Doctor About Wheezing
If your child is experiencing wheezing and it doesn’t seem to be going away, or if it is recurring, it may be a sign of asthma, especially if it is accompanied by difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest.
When your child’s wheezing causes them to be unusually tired, or appear pale and have difficulty breathing, they may require immediate medical attention. This is also true if their wheezing is combined with a fever, as this could indicate a severe respiratory infection, such as pneumonia. If you’re concerned about your child’s health, seek medical advice immediately.
How To Diagnose Wheezing
If your doctor believes that your child’s wheezing needs treatment, they will perform various tests to determine the underlying cause, such as a spirometry test. A spirometer measures the amount of air, and the speed at which, a person can inhale and exhale.
If the symptoms are suspected to be due to a bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe your child a course of antibiotics if deemed necessary. If your doctor thinks that your child’s wheezing may be due to allergies, or asthma, they will discuss an ongoing wheezing and allergen treatment plan with you.
It is important to seek advice from your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about their health, if they are wheezing, or if they are experiencing difficulty breathing.
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