When you notice an unfamiliar sound in your child’s breathing, it is easy to get worried, but wheezing isn’t always a sign of anything serious. While it is very common in children with asthma, it is also possible for children to develop a viral wheeze when they have a cough or cold.
Recognizing a Wheeze
Wheezing is a distinctive, high pitched whistling sound that usually happens as your child is breathing out. It sounds as if it is coming from the chest, rather than the nose. A whistle from the nose usually happens because it is bunged up and it will go away once the blockage is cleared.
Viral Wheeze vs Asthma
There are two clear signs that your child has a viral wheeze rather than asthma. The first is that it is linked with other symptoms of viral infection, such as fever, headache, runny nose or vomiting. The second is that it goes away quickly. The wheeze may last a little longer than the other symptoms, but it should clear up within a few w eeks. You may notice that it comes back next time your child is ill, as some children are more likely to develop a viral wheeze when they have a cough or cold.
You should be more concerned about wheezing if it happens frequently, especially after exercise, or if it isn’t linked with other cold-like symptoms. This kind of wheezing could be a sign that your child has asthma.
When to See a Doctor
A wheeze that isn’t linked to an infection should be checked by a doctor. If your child often seems to be wheezing, even when he or she is otherwise healthy, you should seek medical advice as it could be asthma.
In most cases, a viral wheeze can simply be treated at home like any other cold or infection. However, if the symptoms are severe, you notice any problems with their breathing, or you just need some reassurance, you can always talk to your doctor.