Infant Wheezing

Causes of Infant Wheezing

Infant wheezing can strike fear into the heart of a parent. Although most immediately suspect asthma, there are actually several potential causes behind this symptom. One of the most important things to do is to make a note of all of the other symptoms that seem to accompany the wheezing, if any. Below is a list of some of the most common causes behind infant wheezing to give you an idea of what you might have on your hands. Regardless of what it may appear to be, however, it is very important that you take your child to his/her regular pediatrician to obtain a proper diagnosis and start an effective course of treatment.


Croup is a condition which is caused by a viral infection. It mainly affects the throat and the child’s voice. Children aged six months to around three years are at the highest risk of having croup, although it can affect children of all ages. Although it can take anywhere from three to six days from the time of exposure to the onset of symptoms, when virus does make itself known, the symptoms come on quickly. The child may go to sleep feeling great but wake up with an odd-sounding cough that may be accompanied by wheezing. The cough is often compared to a high-pitched bark, sort of like a seal would make. This sound is caused by inflammation in the airways due to the virus settling there. The throat may swell up to the point that the wheezing sound becomes apparent. At this point, it is probably a good idea to take the child to a doctor to ensure that the swelling does not progress and hinder the child’s breathing.


Acid Reflux

Although acid reflux is often a condition associated with spicy foods and too much caffeine, it is actually a fairly common condition among infants, particularly those in the first year of their life. The lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, is a band of tissues around the area where the esophagus connects to the stomach. Its purpose is to loosen and contract to allow food and drinks into the stomach. Sometimes the sphincter loosens when it shouldn’t and milk or food is forced back into the esophagus. The loosening of the sphincter can be caused by eating right before lying down or by eating too much so that the stomach forces some of the food through the LES and back into the throat. The burning sensation caused by acid can lead to the child scrunching its body, becoming fussy, or wheezing. This is a very common condition while the infant is still drinking milk, as it easily slips through the sphincter. Acid reflux often resolves itself after the child is about 12 to 18 months but in some cases it can persist. Prescription medications can


Asthma is another common infant condition that can result in wheezing. Not all infants retain this condition as they grow older, but for some it is a lifelong condition. The symptoms of infant asthma are tightness in the chest which may be expressed by the child scrunching his body together, coughing, and wheezing. The child may also appear to have shortness of breath, especially when they are active. Coughing that seems particularly persistent at night time is one of the major signs of infant asthma and should be noted. Crying, laughing, and exposure to allergens may trigger wheezing or coughing which is another tell-tale sign. Asthma in infants should be monitored as soon as it is diagnosed to ensure that long-term damage does not occur in the lungs. A doctor should be called as soon as the following symptoms arise: wheezing while attempting to breathe, quickened breaths, continual coughing, paleness, shortness of breath, and a bluish tint to the lips or tips of the fingers.

These are just a few of the common conditions which can cause infant wheezing. If you notice your child wheezing and are concerned about his health, please see a doctor as soon as possible.