Children's Hospital Colorado

Noisy Breathing in Pediatric Patients (S1:E20)

Noisy breathing in children can result from a variety of different conditions — some benign and others urgent. Depending on the characteristics of the noisy breathing, it will be classified as a stertor sound, a stridor sound or wheezing.

Pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) must be prepared to assess these cases, particularly when a child has an infectious process in addition to a potentially fragile or precarious airway. Common treatment options include both medical and surgical interventions. However, parents who would prefer natural remedies to medicines or surgery routinely challenge referring pediatricians.

Listen to a pediatric otolaryngologist discuss noisy breathing in children

In this podcast episode, Jeremy Prager, MD, talks us through the common issue of noisy breathing in pediatric patients. He begins by outlining the underlying causes and presentations of noisy breathing, then walks listeners through treatment options for noisy breathing in newborns, toddlers and older children.

Dr. Prager is a pediatric otolaryngologist, Director of the Aerodigestive Program at Children's Hospital Colorado and associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

In this episode, our expert explains:

  • How an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist defines noisy breathing in children
  • Categorizing noisy breathing in newborns, toddlers, children and adolescents
  • The most common presentations of newborn noisy breathing
  • How to tell the difference between stridor sound and stertor sound, including audible examples
  • When PCPs should be concerned about sleep-disordered breathing
  • How noisy breathing most commonly presents with toddlers
  • The most likely presentations of noisy breathing in school-age children
  • Which comorbidities PCPs should think about when assessing children with noisy breathing
  • How to maximize therapy for kids with complex airway problems
  • Questions pediatric providers should ask when seeking the cause of noisy breathing in children
  • The relationship between pediatric obesity and sleep apnea
  • Diagnostic exams and tests that PCPs can run before a consultation with a specialist, including imaging, swallow studies and sleep studies
  • The most effective treatment options available to a child with noisy breathing
  • When a child is a good candidate for surgical intervention
  • The effectiveness of natural remedies and oxygen therapies for pediatric noisy breathing
  • Why pediatric ENT specialists in the Rocky Mountain Region tend to see more cases of noisy breathing in children

Treating noisy breathing, including stridor and stertor, at Children's Colorado

Children and adolescents who present with noisy breathing are treated by the specialists in the Pediatric Pulmonology Clinic at Children's Colorado. Here, pediatric pulmonologists care for children with noisy breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, oxygen dependency, recurrent pneumonia and other pediatric breathing conditions. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.