Respiratory distress with fever
Fever in children usually occurs as a result of infection or inflammatory changes in the upper respiratory tract. Fever is a protective reaction of the body. A rise in temperature leads to a mobilisation of the body’s own defence systems in order to fight various pathogens by itself.
In the course of this enormous physical exertion, fever can often be accompanied by respiratory distress in children, as breathing is made considerably more difficult by the enormous weakness and exhaustion. The body needs the energy reserves to fight the pathogens. Especially very high fevers above 39 °C represent an enormous burden for the child’s body and can strongly influence and inhibit important bodily functions such as breathing or metabolic processes.
Psychic shortness of breath
The most common psychologically induced respiratory disorder in children is psychogenic hyperventilation. In many cases the cause is an acute stress situation or an anxiety disorder. In such an attack, children breathe very quickly and deeply.
As a result, more carbon dioxide is breathed out and the patient develops a feeling of dizziness and acute shortness of breath. In order to break through the seizure, it helps to breathe into a bag and thereby reabsorb the carbon dioxide. In particularly severe cases, light sedation is needed to calm the children and normalize breathing. In contrast to asthma, psychiatric respiratory distress often occurs at rest and without a specific trigger. Often examinations do not show any abnormalities and medication proves ineffective.
Respiratory distress in children what to do?
The first and most important measure that should be applied to a child in the context of respiratory distress is to remain calm. Parents of affected children should ensure a calm environment, not panic and try to calm their child. Severe restlessness, an increasing feeling of anxiety and palpitations lead to a further increase and intensification of the already existing shortness of breath.
If the child can be calmed down, breathing exercises should be tried to support calm and deep breathing. Drinking cold liquids can also help to relieve the shortness of breath by moistening the airways. Breathing cold air can help to improve shortness of breath.
In the case of asthmatic complaints it is often helpful to prevent the upper body from breathing or to increase breathing resistance by using the lip-brake. If conservative measures do not help, it is often necessary to take medication. In case of acute shortness of breath, with severe anxiety, unconsciousness, shortness of breath and discoloration of the lips or mucous membranes, the emergency doctor should be called as soon as possible.
In the event of an acute obstruction of the respiratory tract due to swallowing a foreign body, an attempt can be made to remove the foreign body by hitting the hand between the shoulder blades three times. If no success is achieved, the patient should be admitted to hospital as soon as possible and an endoscopic removal should be performed.