Chest, Lungs & 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

Keeping your family healthy over winter means keeping your home warm and dry. Check out all the tips in the videos about how to keep your home warm and dry. Find out what support is available. 

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

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

In a series of videos, high school students talk about managing asthma, playing sport and what to do when they have an asthma attack.

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 really important for children with bronchiectasis. Teachers can make a significant difference.

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 caused by a virus - often respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or rhinovirus. Bronchiolitis is very easy to catch so wash your hands before and after handling your 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 more serious 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 to assess 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.

Polysomnography (PSG) is a special type of sleep test which provides the most detailed information about breathing problems during sleep.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very common virus in the winter and spring months in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is one of many viruses that cause infections of the respiratory tract - the parts of the body related to breathing. Most older children have symptoms similar to a cold. Some babies and young children become seriously ill and need hospital care.

Know the signs and the different noises babies and children can make when they are having trouble breathing. That way you can act fast and get help.

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

Snoring or noisy breathing during sleep may be a sign that your child is having difficulty breathing. The medical name for this is obstructive sleep apnoea.

Viral wheeze is an infection of the lungs which starts with a cough or cold. It's more common in children under the age of 3 years as their airways are smaller. Viral wheeze can also be called preschool wheeze, episodic wheeze, or viral-induced wheeze.

Young babies with whooping cough can become very ill and end up in hospital. They can catch whooping cough from family members so make sure you, your older children and extended family are up-to-date with immunisations.

To give others easy access to KidsHealth's content on a range of illnesses affecting chest, lungs and breathing, you can share a QR code poster. Anyone can scan one of the QR codes with their phone and go straight to the relevant KidsHealth page.