Abnormal breathing can be troubling for any parent to witness in his or her child. While some changes in breathing are temporary and relatively harmless, other abnormal breathing episodes may indicate a larger problem.

Irregular breathing in newborns

Newborns will often begin breathing faster for a few seconds and then slow down their breathing, especially when sleeping. This type of irregular breathing is normal and does not require treatment. If irregular breathing persists past the age of 6 months, call your pediatrician to ensure your child's breathing is healthy. If your infant displays any of the symptoms listed below, immediately seek emergency care.

If your child stops breathing

If your child has stopped breathing and is not responsive, immediately begin CPR and call 911.

If your child ceases breathing for 15 seconds or more, and then resumes breathing, visit the ER. Even if your child seems fine, it is important to make sure the underlying reason for the episode has been resolved.

Many children between the age of 6 months and 6 years experience breath-holding spells, involuntary breath holding that usually occurs when the child is crying or upset. Children who experience these spells do not need to seek emergency care unless the incident results in unconsciousness or a seizure. In these cases, it is best to visit the pediatric ER to make sure there are no other reasons for the seizure or unconsciousness.

Changes in breathing

If your child seems to be having a hard time breathing, or you notice abnormal behaviors or actions, it may be time to seek emergency care. Visit the pediatric ER if you notice these symptoms:

  • Breathing that is faster than normal
  • Breathing harder than usual without exertion
  • Chest and abdomen look like a see-saw (one goes up while the other goes down)
  • Bluish hue to the lips or skin
  • Persistent barking cough or wheezing
  • High-pitched squeaky sound in the upper airway
  • Placing weight on the hands in a tripod position while hyperextending the neck

If your child is recovering from a choking episode in which he or she turned blue but returned to normal, it is still a good idea to visit the pediatric ER to ensure there are no longer-term consequences.

Wesley EmergencyCare Network ERs

Online ER Check-in

Patients can complete advance check-in to any of Wesley's four emergency rooms with a free mobile app available for Apple iPhones in iTunes and for Android Phones in the Google Play app Store. Patients can also complete advance registration at www.wesleyercheckin.com. Users simple select which Wesley facility they would like to go to and fill out a few required fields. The selected ER will be instantly notified, enabling the ER staff to better prepare for the patient's arrival. The app and website include the facilities' average wait times so patients can better plan their visit.

ER Average Wait Times

ER wait times are approximate and provided for informational purposes only. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

ER wait times represent a four-hour rolling average updated every 30 minutes and are defined as the time of patient arrival until the time the patient is greeted by a qualified medical professional. Patients are triaged at arrival and are seen by a qualified medical professional in priority order based on their presenting complaint and reason for visit.

The ER wait time represents the time it takes to see a qualified medical professional, defined as a doctor of medicine (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), physician assistant (PA) or advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP).

National average wait time is one hour, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HCA hospitals strive to beat the national average.

Ready Care

Wesley's main emergency department also provides Ready Care services, an “express lane” through the emergency department in a convenient, timely setting. These services are an alternative care route to the regular emergency department where treatment is determined on the severity of the patient's condition. Ready Care is ideal for patients who need immediate care for small emergencies, such as sprains, sore throats, ear infections and rashes. The service area is managed by providers trained in emergency medicine and is fully supervised by board-certified physicians. Patients are referred to the area through the regular emergency department.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911 or seek medical attention immediately.