When to Take Your Child to the ER for Cough and Difficulty in Breathing

One of the things that parents have to deal with every other day is coughs. This is especially true during the flu or cold season. At times, it can be challenging to know what type of your cough your child is having and if it needs you to visit our pediatric ER near you.

In most cases, your kid will recover from the cough within a few days with home care or if you visit your pediatrician.

Nevertheless, there are some circumstances when your child may develop a cough and have difficulty breathing, and you may think it’s necessary to rush them to our toddler emergency room in Waxahachie. So, if you have been wondering when is the right time to get a kid’s emergency treatment when your child has a cough and difficulty breathing, read on.

Understanding Coughs

Coughing and wheezing or difficulty breathing are prevalent symptoms of childhood illness. It doesn’t really mean that their condition is severe. However, it is heartbreaking for you to see your child in distress. But you may need to know that coughing is a normal reflex that aids the body to clear the airways in the chest and the throat.

Home care can deal with coughing, difficulty breathing, or wheezing in most cases. If a respiratory problem doesn’t seem to settle, you should rush your child to our toddler emergency room in Waxahachie.

What Are the Causes of Coughing and Difficulty Breathing in Kids?

Kids cough and wheeze because of various reasons. Some of the most common causes could include and are not limited to:

  • Choking – this is when the coughing is sudden, and your child has not been unwell
  • Smoke – if you smoke around the children, this can cause your baby to smoke
  • Colds and other viruses – this is a very prevalent cause of coughing
  • Croup – this is what causes a barking or hoarse cough
  • Allergy – if your kid has been exposed to an allergen that can cause them to cough
  • Hay fever is brought about by dust mites, mold, or animal hair. It can also cause sneezing and a runny nose
  • Pneumonia
  • Whooping cough
  • Bronchiolitis

Also, remember that coughing and wheezing is not automatic indicator that your child has asthma. Young kids who might have coughs and chest infections may cough and wheeze. This is because they have narrower airways and might get a lot of colds.

Asthma cannot be diagnosed until after 12 months when the muscles around your baby’s lungs are mature.

When Can You Seek Immediate Help When Your Baby Is Coughing?

Irregular breathing in newborns is nothing to worry about. It is quite normal for newborns to speed up their breathing and then slow down, especially when sleeping. This irregular breathing doesn’t require treatment. If this persists for over six months, then you can visit your pediatrician.

But if your child has a cough and experiences the following, then you may need to seek kids’ emergency treatment:

Your Child Stops Breathing

If your child is coughing and then stops breathing and is unresponsive, call our ER and start CPR immediately. If your child ceases to breathe for more than 15 seconds and then resumes breathing, you will still need to visit our pediatric ER near you.

Many kids between six months and six years will have breath-holding spells, involuntary breath-holding that may occur when the child is upset or crying. In this case, there’s no need to visit our ER.

Changes in Breathing

Also, you will need to rush your child to our ER if your baby has the following symptoms:

  • Breathing harder than usual exertion
  • Breathing that is faster than normal
  • Bluish hue to the skin or lips
  • One side of the abdomen of the chest is going up while the other is going down
  • Persistent wheezing or barking cough
  • High-pitched squeaky sound in the upper air passage

Child Choking        

Child choking can be life-threatening. If your child has a choking episode and turned blue and then returned to normal after performing first aid, you will still need to visit our ER to ensure that everything checks out okay.


When your baby’s chest seems congested or has an upper respiratory issue for more than five days, visit our pediatric ER. If you also notice that your child’s nostrils are flaring when they are breathing or has retractions when breathing, then you may need to get prompt care. This could be a sign that your baby has pneumonia.

At Altus Emergency Center in Waxahachie, your child will be able to get the immediate care that they need. Reach out to us immediately when you think your child needs prompt care.