5 Common Respiratory Symptoms to Watch for in Children

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With millions of children suffering from respiratory disorders in the United States, recognizing the signs and symptoms in children and infants can help.

As a parent, you are focused on keeping your kids happy and healthy. With millions of children suffering from respiratory disorders in the United States, recognizing the signs and symptoms in children and infants can help.

Below are five common respiratory symptoms to watch for in your child.

1. Chronic Coughing

The sounds of coughing can put even the most seasoned parent on high alert. Occasional coughing could indicate a common cold. However, a chronic cough in kids is a more significant cause for concern and one of the most recognizable signs your child is experiencing a respiratory issue that may require treatment.

If your child is exhibiting a consistent cough, especially after physical activity, it could be asthma, which affects about 1.75 million American children. A chronic cough with fever and fatigue might be a sign your child has bronchitis or pneumonia. Consult your pediatrician if your child has a persistent cough that lasts more than a few days or flares up regularly.

2. Chest Tightness

Another common symptom of asthma in children is chest tightness. Physical activity and irritants like smoke, pollution, and allergens (dust and pollen) are all potential asthma attack triggers.

During an asthma attack, the airways in the lungs constrict making it difficult to breathe. Home therapies such as nebulizers and inhalers can help relieve the symptoms of an attack. However, a severe asthma attack, if left untreated can be life-threatening.

If your child complains of experiencing tightness in their chest, especially if they've been running around and playing, it's best to seek help from your child’s practitioner.

3. Weakness and/or Fatigue

The respiratory system enables your body to get the oxygen it needs so that you stay healthy and active. When it is not working correctly, you can quickly become tired and weak. This can be especially dangerous in children who are more susceptible to viruses and infections. Excessive fatigue in a child could be a sign of a severe respiratory illness, especially if they experience other symptoms like coughing and chest pain. Weakness is a common sign of pneumonia and bronchitis, which are serious illnesses that require medical attention.

4. Coughing associated with increased activity:

The way your child responds to exercise is another indicator of their respiratory condition. Do they regularly experience coughing fits after running around the playground or in the yard? Crying, laughing, running or playing hard are some of the primary triggers of asthma attacks in kids and might mean a trip to the child’s practitioner is in order.

5. Wheezing

When the lungs are inflamed or constricted, there is often a noticeable whistling sound as air struggles to pass through. This is a common symptom of multiple respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis. The occasional episode might mean a cold, but regular bouts of wheezing and difficulty breathing may mean it is time to take your child to their practitioner. They might recommend aerosolized medication therapy via a nebulizer to help relieve the symptoms and alleviate the strain caused by acute respiratory distress.


With potential exposure to many irritants and germs, the respiratory system is vulnerable and deserves protection and care. Children are especially susceptible to these risks because they have not developed immunity to the common viruses that attack the lungs. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of respiratory distress in children and knowing what your treatment options are, you may give your family the best care as soon as they need it.

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