Breathlessness in children

7) What are Altered Breathing Patterns?

Child with hand over mouth

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When anxiety becomes severe it can cause your child to become very breathless and feel that they cannot breathe. This is acute hyperventilation and can be very frightening. These are commonly described as panic attacks.

If the individual child or young person’s breathing pattern is altered for some time it can become their normal way of breathing (chronic). This can be shown in 3 ways:

  1. Increased (fast) number of breaths per minute with shallower breaths.
  2. Deep breaths. This indicates a large tidal volume (the air moving in and out of the lungs) with slow number of breaths per minute.
  3. Frequent sighs or yawns.