My child has noisy breathing. What are the causes and treatments?
Noisy breathing in children may be due to various conditions some of which are harmless and some may require urgent treatment. Narrowing or blockage of the airway anywhere along the windpipe causes turbulence in airflow leading to noisy breathing.
The type – pitch, repetitiveness, and volume-of the sound created, often points to the location of narrowing along the respiratory tract.
?Stertor – is a low pitched sound similar to that during a bad cold or snoring produced by narrowing at the level of the nose or back of the throat.
?Stridor – high pitched sound due to narrowing at or below the voice box. It can occur either during inspiration or expiration or both depending on the level of narrowing along with the voice box.
?Wheeze – high pitched noise during expiration due to the narrowing of smaller airways in the lungs.
Causes of Noisy Breathing:
☑️ Infections – Viral/Bacterial – anywhere along the respiratory tract
☑️ Congenital (Birth defects) that cause narrowing or even tumours
☑️ Floppy tissues and paralysis-lax tissue or nerve paralysis in the windpipe causes obstruction to breathe
☑️ Foreign body – e.g. peanut or a fruit seed or button cells – that inadvertently enter the windpipe
☑️ Asthma, allergy and other diseases of small airway and lung
☑️ Large tonsils and adenoids, swellings of tongue, palate, and throat
☑️ Deviation of the nasal septum, polyp, etc.
What should you do if your child/baby has noisy breathing?
? If it’s sudden, severe, and associated with choking and gagging you must seek immediate help from the emergency room of your child care provider. In extreme cases, manoeuvres to secure the breathing may be necessary, e.g. inserting a breathing tube down the throat or even in the neck.
? If the noise has been there for a while, consult your ENT doctor for a complete evaluation of the underlying cause. He will listen to you, examine the child, and possibly suggest X-rays/Scans and blood tests. To make a better diagnosis, he may suggest a thorough evaluation of the whole windpipe under anaesthesia in the operating room.
⛑ Treatments for noisy breathing may range from watchful observation and medication (more often than not) to very complex surgery (infrequently).
⛑ Recognition by parents and correct diagnosis forms the basis of successful treatment.