Stridor Breathing Causes And Treatment: Noisy Breathing In Children

The air passage allows air to move in and out of the lungs. Partial obstruction of the air passage results in a high pitched sound, due to resonance of the air passage, which is referred to as Stridor breathing. It is usually heard when the individual takes a breath and is more frequently observed in children as they have a smaller air passage.

There are a host of factors that are responsible for stridor and the treatment focuses on management of the cause of the stridor breathing.

What Causes Stridor Or Noisy Breathing?

There are a host of factors that are responsible for stridor breathing, which is primarily caused due to obstruction of the air passage.

Some of the common causes associated with stridor breathing include,

  • Airway injury is often associated with noisy or stridor breathing.
  • Respiratory tract infection results in accumulation of mucous in the respiratory passage, which often causes obstruction of the air passage and results in stridor breathing.
  • Enlarged tonsils or tonsil abscess can also obstruct the air passage are result in stridor breathing.
  • Enlarged adenoids or abscess in the throat are also common causes.
  • Vocal cord cancer is also responsible for stridor or noisy breathing.
  • Inhalation or obstruction of foreign body in the air passage or inflammation of the epiglottitis are also other causes associated with stridor breathing.

Stridor (Noisy) Breathing In Children

Children are at a higher risk of developing stridor or noisy breathing primarily due to a narrower airway compared to the adults. Further the risk of tonsil enlargement or blockage of the air passage due to swallowing of a marble or a pebble is higher in children. In children the immediate medical attention should be sought to prevent a complete obstruction of the air passage.

In neonates certain congenital anomalies of the respiratory tract may contribute to partial obstruction of the air passage and may be responsible for noisy or stridor breathing. Surgical management is inevitable for treatment of these conditions.

Treatment For Stridor Breathing

The treatment regimen should be customized depending upon the cause of stridor breathing and management of the underlying condition. The treatment regimen can be classified into non-emergency care and emergency care,

  • Non Emergency Care: Stridor attributed to enlarged tonsils, infection or obstruction of airway due to mucus plugs can be treated on non emergency basis. The treatment regimen aims at treating the underlying infection by antibiotics. In some cases steroids may be recommended to dilate the airways. Steam inhalation is often recommended in cases of excessive sputum production to ease the removal of mucus and opening up the air passage. Homeopathic drugs like Baryta Carb and Bufo Rana are considered beneficial in the management of enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
  • Emergency Care: In certain conditions like stenosis or tumors, surgical intervention is inevitable. Logging of foreign body in the air passage may also require to be treated in emergency conditions. Some cases of retropharynageal abscess and pritonsillar abscess may also be treated on emergency basis. Surgical intervention may involve tracheotomy to restore the flow of air through the respiratory tract.
  • There is no specific dietary prescription for the management of the condition, however in individuals undergoing emergency care, nil by mouth (NBM) policy needs to be followed. In such cases intravenous fluids are given.

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