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Wheezing In Babies Baby Wheezing Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Wheezing in Babies: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Wheezing in babies often gets many parents scared, especially first-time moms and dads.

Is your baby wheezing? And are you worried whether or not he has asthma or another serious condition?

Not to worry! In most cases, baby wheezing is common in infants and children. And wheezing occurs more in children than adults.

These little ones wheeze due to viruses or colds and may not develop asthma when they get older.

Some of the significant factors contributing to baby wheezing involve the airway resistance in babies and children’s lungs, plus their small airways or smaller bronchi.

Just so you know, some children have inherited and congenital conditions from birth, which may cause wheezing.

I’m sure you are itching to know more about wheezing in babies. Perhaps, you may have started noticing some funny symptoms related to their breathing pattern.

Read further to discover the symptoms, causes and treatments of baby wheezing. And also when to contact your child’s pediatrician.

Read more: Baby Won’t Stop Crying: 7 Easy Ways to Soothe a Baby Who’s Crying (In Their Sleep)

About Wheezing in Babies

Typically, wheezing in babies occurs during exhalation. It occurs when something narrows or blocks the lower airways in the lungs. For instance, whenever your baby breathes, a few dried mucus pieces can cause a short whistling noise.

While wheezing, your baby might take tiny breaths combined with a whistling noise.

Due to a baby’s tiny airways, many things can cause him to make a wheezing noise when he breathes. While some of them are normal, others should cause concern.

Even though you can hear your baby wheezing for many reasons, it is hard to determine true wheezing without a stethoscope.

If there is a constant whistle-like sound or a rattling sound accompanying breaths, pay close attention for more signs.

A normal infant’s breathing sounds can vary. You may notice that your baby takes slower, deeper breaths while sleeping than when awake.

Breathing heavily does not equal wheezing. Additionally, a grunt or sigh from time to time is not indicative of wheezing.

When children experience wheezing, they are likely to suffer from an infection or respiratory condition.

Sometimes, baby wheezing is only the minor flu or a cold symptom. However, it could indicate a more severe condition such as asthma in other cases.

Even though hearing your child wheeze can be frightening, it usually doesn’t mean anything serious.

The important thing is to know when your baby is wheezing and whether or not you need to take him to the doctor.

Read more: Is it safe for a baby to lie on the back with hiccups? Answer from Experienced Mothers

Symptoms of Baby Wheezing

Wheezing isn’t always easy to recognize since babies and children make different sounds when breathing.

When babies breathe, they often grunt or sigh, but wheezing is something else.

The noise is usually consistent and happens when taking a breath in or out.

Your child might also make a rattling sound in his chest due to loose mucus moving around as they breathe.

You can usually hear your baby wheezing as they breathe, although the sound may be so faint that it is only audible through a stethoscope.

Sometimes wheezing can go undetected until you visit the doctor for a cough or another reason.

Other symptoms may accompany wheezing, depending on what is causing it.

If suffering from an infection, your little one might also have a high temperature, headache, cough, or other symptoms.

Other symptoms, such as breathlessness, watery eyes or coughing, can indicate an allergy or asthma.

Due to the wide variety of causes of wheezing in children, it is crucial to identify the other symptoms that are also present. For instance, if fever accompanies it, it is probably due to a chest infection.

In addition, pay attention to when the symptoms tend to appear since this may provide clues towards the cause.

Furthermore, wheezing in babies is often associated with specific triggers caused by asthma or allergies. Therefore, it is likely to occur in particular places or after specific activities.

Moreover, a doctor can quickly narrow down the possible causes of wheezing in babies if you describe as thoroughly as possible the symptoms.

Read more: 8-Month Sleep Regression: Signs, Causes, and Management Tips

Possible Causes of Wheezing in Babies

Wheezing can have many different causes. It can be a symptom of an infection such as a cold, Bronchiolitis, or pneumonia. Also, it can be a sign of a condition such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

Therefore, it is crucial to determine what is causing the baby wheezing. It will help to choose the right course of treatment.

  • Allergies

When your baby has allergies, his body can create extra phlegm. Unfortunately, since babies cannot clear their throats or blow their noses, this phlegm stays in their narrow nasal passages.

Has your little one tried a new food or been exposed to an air pollutant?  Allergies could cause them to make a wheezing sound.

However, if the phlegm only stays in the nose or throat and not the lungs, wheezing may not be true.

Moreover, allergies are uncommon in infants younger than one year.

Read more: Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe to Take?

  • Asthma

Sometimes, wheezing in babies could indicate the presence of asthma.

This condition can occur if the child’s parents have a history of asthma or they smoke.

In addition, if the baby’s mom smoked when she was pregnant, it could cause the baby to be asthmatic.

However, one baby wheezing incident doesn’t mean your little one has asthma.

Nonetheless, if your infant has continued wheezing episodes, his pediatrician may conduct some diagnostic tests.

Also, they may recommend asthma medication to observe if your child’s condition improves.

Read more:

  • Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is a lower respiratory infection your child might have. It often occurs in babies during the winter months.

A virus typically causes Bronchiolitis. This condition occurs because of the inflammation of the bronchioles in the lungs. In addition, they may also experience congestion.

Furthermore, if your child has Bronchiolitis, he might develop a cough.

Unfortunately, baby wheezing caused by Bronchiolitis usually takes time to go away.

Thankfully, most children recover at home. Only a tiny percentage of cases get a baby hospitalized.

Other Causes of Wheezing in Babies

In the case of a severe ailment, your baby may have other symptoms, as well.

  • Congenital disease

In rare cases, wheezing sounds in a baby might result from chronic or congenital diseases like cystic fibrosis.

  • Pneumonia

Chronic wheezing in babies may also indicate pertussis or pneumonia.

Symptoms include a sudden onset of cough, high fever, and fast breathing. Vaccination prevents it.

  • Hay fever

Dust mites, animal hairs, and molds may contribute to hay fever. Sneezing and a runny nose are other symptoms that may accompany coughs.

You should call your pediatrician if your child has a fever of over 100.4°F when he is under six months old.

Read more: Gripe Water to Soothe Babies and Newborns: How safe is it?

How to treat Baby Wheezing

There are various treatments for wheezing in babies depending on the cause.

If your baby has wheezing for the first time, your doctor may let you treat the symptoms at home before prescribing medication.

Here are specific at-home remedies you can try.

  • Hydration

If it is an infection causing your baby to wheeze, it will help keep him hydrated.

Make sure that you keep them well hydrated by giving them a lot of fluids. Hydration helps to loosen mucus and clear the nasal passages.

  • Humidifier

Humidifiers add moisture to the air and loosen any congestion. So, you can help your baby breathe better by misting or hydrating the air.

  • Nebulizer

Additionally, your baby may need to use a nebulizer. Your doctor might suggest that you use saline.

Albuterol medication, mixed with saline, is sometimes used to open up airways. Most of the time, albuterol helps asthmatic wheezing. However, it is unlikely to decrease wheezing caused by other conditions.

  • Bulb Syringe

A bulb syringe may help suck some mucus from the upper airways if the congestion persists.

Don’t forget that your little one’s nasal passages and lungs’ airways are still developing. So, be gentle.

In addition, you should always sanitize a bulb syringe thoroughly between uses and use it carefully.

  • Medication

Safe baby medications used to treat colds and coughs are rarely available.

It will not help a cough or wheeze when you administer acetaminophen or other products intended to break a fever.

Refrain from giving your infant honey to coat their throat and soothe their wheeze. It could lead to infant botulism.

You should speak to your pediatrician if you think your baby needs medical treatment.

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When to See a Doctor

You should go to the pediatrician right away if you think your baby is wheezing. The doctor can determine the best course of action by diagnosing your child.

In some cases, you must address symptoms immediately.

When a child has a severe respiratory attack, they can stop breathing. If coughing and wheezing persist, or if your child becomes more distressed or ill, see your doctor or pediatrician right away.

For instance, seek medical attention right away if your child has labored breathing or bluish skin. Such symptoms may indicate an allergic reaction or severe illness.

If your baby shows any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

  • Extreme fits of coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Rapid or irregular breathing
  • Rattling in the chest
  • Noisy breathing when not crying
  • Dehydration
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Food or drink refusal
  • A sustained high fever

The doctor can provide your baby with the care they need in these situations.

In addition, your baby can experience breathing difficulties if he has something stuck in his nose. You may notice the following symptoms:

  • A one-sided runny or blocked nose
  • Tenderness around the nose
  • Whistling noise when breathing through the nose
  • Bleeding nose
  • Your child complains about a strange smell that no one else can detect.

Therefore, take your child to the doctor if you suspect they have something stuck in their nose.

Read more: Why Do Babies Sleep so Much? (Answers from Experienced Moms)

Wheezing in Babies FAQS

When should I worry about my baby wheezing?

If you notice that your baby’s coughing and wheezing persists or if they become unwell/ distressed, take them to the children’s hospital right away.

In addition, you may notice that they experience difficulty breathing, rapid or irregular breathing. Plus, the skins may turn bluish and pale.

Is wheezing normal for babies?

Wheezing in babies or children is a typical or common occurrence. This high-pitched noise comes from the chest during breathing.

At least one episode will occur in 25 to 30 percent of infants. About 40 percent will experience it by the age of 3 and almost 50 percent by the age of 6.

In addition, the smaller bronchi or small airways in children’s lungs, and their higher airway resistance, account for this.

How can I help my baby with wheezing?

In mild cases of wheezing in babies, you may manage the situation with some home remedies. They include:

  • Avoid exposing your child to second-hand smoke.
  • Humidifier
  • Bulb syringe device for mucus suction.
  • The use of a nebulizer
Can wheezing go away on its own?

Yes. Normal baby wheezing cases can go away on their own. Most acute bronchitis cases resolve on their own in 7 to 10 days.

However, when the symptoms linger for a longer time (over two weeks), especially at night or when you are active, it could indicate a sign of a severe medical condition.

Therefore, you should seek immediate medical attention.

How do you know if a baby is having trouble breathing?
  • While they are awake, your child may have shorter pauses in their breathing, i.e., breathing may stop for over 20 seconds.
  • You may notice that your child’s skin is blue or pale, or their tongue or inner lips are blue.
  • Breathing may also be irregular or faster than usual.
  • Your child’s nostrils may get wider when he breathes.
  • Your little one may make a high-pitched sound or wheeze when breathing in and out.
  • When they breathe out, they may make a grunting sound.
  • With each breath, the muscles under your baby’s ribs may suck in.

When you notice these signs, seek immediate medical help.

If you have more questions concerning this topic, please drop them in the comment section below.

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