Difficulty Breathing In Infants And Young Children: An Update
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Difficulty Breathing In Infants And Young Children: An Update

July 2011

Abstract

Pediatric respiratory distress is a common and troubling presenting complaint to the emergency department (ED). Although many respiratory illnesses are due to upper respiratory tract infections, which are self-limited and need only parental reassurance, the emergency clinician must constantly be alert and prepared for
the few children with an underlying condition that can progress to respiratory compromise or failure. Emergency clinicians must utilize clues from both the history and physical examination to uncover the cause of the distress and then employ the most up-to-date modalities to prevent the child’s deterioration. Although uncommon, respiratory failure can rapidly ensue in some instances and cause cardiopulmonary arrest. Respiratory failure is the most common cause of
cardiac arrest in children.1 The unexpected and rapid respiratory collapse of the pediatric patient can most often be avoided by early recognition of the severity of illness and should prompt initiation of appropriate therapies.

Keywords: pediatric difficulty breathing, asthma, bronchiolitis, croup, foreign body aspiration, Anaphylaxis

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