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Summary: Breathing difficulties


The most common medical presentation to the Emergency Department is children with breathing difficulties. As there are many different causes of breathing difficulties, it is important to be able to assess a likely cause, to assess the severity, and to guide further management.

In this session we have discussed:

  • Assessment of a child with increasing respiratory distress
  • The recognition and management of acute severe asthma
  • Consideration of other causes of breathing difficulties

You should feel more confident about the recognition of a child with respiratory distress, and when to be worried about them. The presentation and treatment of children with respiratory problems depends on their age. It is important to understand when bronchodilators such as salbutamol should be used, such as in acute severe viral wheeze or asthma, and when they have minimal role, such as croup and bronchiolitis.

We recognise that breathing difficulties is an enormous topic, and that there are many different presentations. The most important thing is to learn from this topic is the paediatric life-threatening signs of breathing difficulties.

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Emergency and Urgent Care for Children: a Survival Guide

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