Chest, lungs and breathing

Find out about a range of conditions which affect the lungs, chest and breathing - read about the symptoms, causes, treatment and when to seek help. 

Illustration of a child's respiratory system

If a premature baby has apnoea of prematurity, it means they stop breathing at times for 15-20 seconds. 

Asthma is a condition that leads to narrowing of the airways of the lungs. Symptoms include wheeze, cough and difficulty breathing.

Bronchiectasis is a chest disease. The airways in the lungs have become damaged and scarred. Once a person has bronchiectasis, they usually have it for life. Good treatment stops it getting worse and in very young children, can reverse some of the disease.

School is an important part of life for a child with bronchiectasis.

Children and young people with bronchiectasis can have an action plan. You and your doctor or another member of your child's health team can discuss this so that it's right for your child. It lists your child's daily treatment and steps to take if your child becomes unwell. 

Bronchiolitis is a chest condition that causes breathing problems in babies. It's catching so wash your hands before and after handling baby.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea.

Coughing is common in children, especially when they are preschool age. A cough that lasts longer than 4 weeks is not normal and may be a sign of chest disease.

If your child has a bad cough, it’s important to recognise it early. A long lasting wet cough can lead to the development of lung diseases such as bronchiectasis.

Croup is a viral illness in young children which causes narrowing of the upper airways. Croup is often a mild illness but can quickly become serious, so do not hesitate to get medical help.

Some babies will need home oxygen to help with their breathing.

An oximetry test measures the amount of oxygen in the blood and can be used in the assessment of your child's breathing during sleep. 

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It causes cough, fever and problems with breathing. Most children make a complete recovery from pneumonia.

A polysomnogram (sleep study) is the gold-standard test for the investigation of breathing problems during sleep.

Check the list for signs your child is struggling to breathe. Know the different noises that babies or children can make when they are struggling to breathe.

Neuromuscular conditions are disorders of the nerves that control the body and muscles. Neuromuscular weakness can affect different muscle groups necessary for breathing. Even in cases where there is no cure for a neuromuscular condition, there are ways to help manage breathing problems that may improve your child's health.

Although noisy breathing during sleep is common in children, it may be a sign that your child is having difficulty breathing. The medical name for this is obstructive sleep apnoea.