Wheezing is a whistling sound made when breathing out.
In children, wheeze may be due to:
This page answers questions on transient infant wheeze:
For information on asthma or wheeze in children older than 2 years, click here.
It refers to wheezing infants less than 2 years of age. The symtoms are similar to asthma. Infants have a wheeze which is a whistling noise as your child breathes out.
However the mechanism causing the wheezy noise is different so infants may not respond to usual asthma management and the long term outlook is also different.
The wheeze is caused by narrow airways but in young infants this is not always caused by spasm of the muscles that you get with asthma. In infants, the air tubes (bronchi) are small anyway.
When an infant gets a cold, their membranes all become swollen. You will have seen your child with a blocked nose because the nose membranes (the lining of the nose) are all swollen.
Well, the air tubes (bronchi) also get swollen membranes (or lining) so that the passage in the middle becomes smaller. When the airway is already narrow (because you're just a small human being) and then you get swollen lining of the tube, it becomes even narrower.
Narrow air tubes (bronchi) can make it hard to breathe and so your infant may show signs of working harder to breathe and have the whistling noise as he breathes out.
No. Most infants will not develop asthma later in life. 80% of infants who wheeze in the first year of life will not continue to have symptoms after the age of 3 years.
Because most of these infants will not have asthma later in life, most doctors will not refer to this as infant asthma but will use the term transient infantile wheeze or viral induced wheeze.
The main trigger is a viral upper respiratory tract infection, like a cold - read more.
Because there is often no spasm causing the narrow airways, medications called bronchodilators that open up the airways, don't usually work.
However, it is worth trying as some infants will respond but no treatment has been shown to work very well all the time in this group of children. The treatments are given via a spacer with a mouthpiece and the medicine is pumped into the spacer - read more.
The drugs that can be tried are:
For children admitted to hospital, a short course of oral steroids can shorten the attack.
Sometimes, no treatment works and infants just have to get over the wheezing themselves. Luckily, they are often quite happy even though they are having to work harder to breathe.
You should seek medical attention for your infant if:
you are really worried about your infant
To go to the top of the Wheezing Infant page, click here
To go to the Breathing Problem page, click here
To read about treatment and spacers, click here
To read about Asthma, click here
To return to the Home page, click here
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