For many parents like us, we tend to be more than a little worried about the smallest things. Even a slight fever can prompt a doctor’s visit within hours. But when your baby’s breathing seems off, your concern may be warranted.
Let’s find out about stridor, its causes, and what you can do about it.
What Is Stridor?
Also called extrathoracic airway obstruction and musical breathing, stridor sound is breathing that is unusually noisy. What does stridor sound like? It’s a high-pitched, wheezing sound. The stridor sound may also vibrate like a low whistle and is loud enough to hear without the aid of a stethoscope. Check here for stridor lung sounds audio.
There are three types of stridor sounds:
- Inspiratory – This is when you only hear the noise as your child inhales. Inspiratory means there is a problem with the area or tissue above the vocal cords.
- Expiratory – Opposite to the previous type, you only hear sounds when your baby exhales. Expiratory is indicative of something blocking the windpipe.
- Biphasic – This is a combination of the previous two. With biphasic stridor, you can hear the noise when your child both inhales and exhales. Biphasic means that the cartilage near the vocal cord has narrowed.
What Causes It?
There are several causes of stridor breathing sounds, including:
- Laryngomalacia – This is a congenital condition that is the most common culprit of stridor lung sounds in infants and young children. Here, the tissues of the larynx or voice box soften. The membrane may have malformation and thus partially block the airway.
- Foreign object – Babies can be curious. Because of this, a foreign object may become lodged in your child’s throat, airway, or nose. If this is the cause, the stridor sound is often temporary. It typically goes away once you remove the object.
- Inflammation – Musical breathing can also occur from inflammation of the airway, throat, or lymph nodes. It may be due to an infection, an allergic reaction, croup, bronchitis, epiglottitis, and even tonsillitis. Croup is the leading cause of acute stridor.
- Trauma – Trauma to the airway or vocal cords can also lead to noisy breathing. It can be from a throat surgery or an accident leading to a fracture in the neck.
- Harmful substances – Inhaling smoke and swallowing chemicals can damage the throat and airway.
Is It Dangerous?
How dangerous stridor breath sounds are will depend on its cause. Generally, you should see a health professional if you hear your child experiencing this.
Some cases are considered a medical emergency and need immediate care. One such case is if there is something lodged in your child’s throat, causing them to choke. Allergies leading to anaphylaxis also require urgent care. Other instances of inflammation may also be life-threatening as they impair breathing.
Signs to look out for include bluish lips or skin, difficult or strained breathing, lethargy, and weight loss.
Laryngomalacia is a different case, however. It is common and rarely life-threatening. It often becomes noticeable in infants around 4 to 7 months of age. For most kids, they outgrow this by the age of 2, and rarely will it require medical attention.
How Is It Treated?
For stridorous breath sounds, your child may need medical treatment. Your physician or pediatrician may perform one of the following:
- They may refer you to a throat or nose specialist.
- Provide an injection or oral medicine for allergies or inflammation in general.
- Hospitalize and monitor your child. In severe cases, performing surgery may be necessary (although this is rare).
In summary, what do you need to do immediately for stridor breathing sound? Call your doctor. Even if stridor lung sound runs in the family, likely, you won’t know its cause. Ask your doctor about stridor sounds and other medical concerns. Better safe than sorry.
What is Stridor a sign of?
Stridor is a sign that there is a blockage in a child’s trachea or larynx. It usually comes out as a high-pitched wheezing sound.
What is the difference between a wheeze and Stridor?
A wheeze is a continuous sound that comes from the lungs when the airway walls are narrow. Stridor, meanwhile, is comparable to a loud musical noise that comes from the larynx or trachea.
Is Stridor an emergency?
Yes, Stridor can be considered as an emergency. It occurs due to laryngeal or tracheal obstruction.
How do you treat Stridor?
Stridor can be treated by taking injections or medications to reduce airway swelling. In severe cases, doctors may suggest surgery.
When should I be concerned about Stridor?
Parents should be concerned about a child’s Stridor when the high-pitched sound is louder than ever. Take the child to the doctor immediately if that occurs.
Does Stridor go away on its own?
Yes, Stridor can go away on its own. However, it does not always happen, especially if it is a result of a congenital condition.
What does a Stridor cough sound like?
Stridor usually comes after croup coughing, which makes a kid sound like a barking seal. When they inhale, the high-pitched noise from their trachea or larynx can be heard, as if they have a hard time breathing.
How do you treat Stridor at home?
Turning on a humidifier at home may reduce the swelling in the larynx or trachea. Allow your child to play outside when it is cold, too, since the cold air may be helpful.
Can allergies cause Stridor?
Yes, allergies can cause Stridor, primarily when it is severe. The inflammation can make their throat swell, thus allowing air to pass through as a wheezing sound.
Is Stridor life-threatening?
Yes, Stridor can be life-threatening when a doctor cannot diagnose it at once. The reason is that your child’s windpipe or voice box may continue swelling to the extent that they can hardly breathe.
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