“Normal” breathing means different things for different children. One child breathes quietly, while another makes noise with each breath. A child at rest takes slow, deep breaths, while a running child breathes quickly. Given the range of normal, it can be difficult to tell when breathing is abnormal.
You will hear several terms used to describe “abnormal breathing.” Labored breathing refers to rapid, often shallow breathing associated with increased effort to take each breath. Respiratory distress is an exaggerated form of labored breathing that is associated with not getting enough oxygen into the body.
Wheezing is a sound heard on exhalation, a high-pitched whistle. It may be associated with labored breathing or respiratory distress, or it may not. The easiest way to understand why breathing may be labored to understand the path that air follows from the nose and mouth down to the lungs. (more…)