Symptom Home Care Guides

Breathing Trouble

Most of the time, a kid with breathing trouble should be evaluated by a provider same day.

Signs breathing trouble needs same-day medical attention:

  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Breathing too fast or too slow (see table below for normal ranges)
  • Retractions, or working to get a breath in
  • If you're worried about your child's breathing contact your PCP advice line

If your child is not breathing or is turning blue, start first aid if you know how and call 911!

Home care tips for breathing trouble:

If your child simply seems to have a snotty congested nose, or the noisy breathing seems to be coming from all of the boogers in their nose, here are some tips you can try.

  • Suction your child's nose using some drops of saline (available over the counter) and a nasal suction device such as a Nose Frida or Naspira
  • Use a humidifier
  • Take a steamy shower with your child
  • If your child is over a year old, you can try propping them up in bed for more comfortable sleep.

Cold and cough medicines for children are not recommended, though for kids over two years of age, guaifenesin (a mucus thinner) is an option. The dose for a 2 year old is the same as for a 4 year old so just follow the lowest recommended dosing on the box.

Two teaspoons of honey (for children over 1 year old) has also been proven to help children with a cough sleep better and it's probably as good, if not better, than cough medicine.

Age Normal Respiratory Rate
Newborn-1 year 30-60 breaths per minute
1-3 years 24-40 breaths per minute
3-6 years 22-34 breaths per minute
6-12 years 18-30 breaths per minute
12 years and older 12-16 breaths per minute

This symptom guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think your child may have a life threatening emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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