Breathing difficulties

What can you do if your child has breathing difficulties? What should you pay special attention to?


The film provides simple advice and guidance on how to keep an eye on your child, what you can do to ease your child's discomfort, and when to call your general practitioner, medical on-call service, emergency helpline or 112.

The most important advice if your child has breathing difficulties

Many children experience difficulty breathing. This is often caused by an inflammatory condition (infection) in the airways. In the vast majority of cases, it will go away by itself after a few days. Children often have a fever, a wet cough, and a runny, stuffy nose because the mucous membranes in their throat and nose are swollen. Children's airways are smaller than those of adults, and this can make their breathing fast, heavy and perhaps with a different sound. 


  • Make sure there is cool and fresh air.

  • Drop saline solution into the nose.

  • Let your child sleep with his or her head elevated.

  • Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids.

  • Do not hesitate to give your child paracetamol (such as Panodil® Junior, Pinex®, Arax® Junior or Pamol®) if he or she is unwell. Follow the instructions on the package.

Call your general practitioner in the daytime. After that, call the medical on-call service or the emergency helpline if your child:

  • Is younger than six months and has difficulty breathing

  • Has a fever that lasts longer than three to five days

  • Is lethargic or listless

  • Finds it hard to breathe and breaths loudly, or sucks his or her stomach in under the ribs

Or if you just feel that things are going in the wrong direction, even though you have tried the advice in this guide.

Call 112: 

  • If your child is lethargic and listless, and you have difficulty getting contact with your child, for example, if you cannot get eye contact. ​

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The most important advice if your child has breathing difficulties

Download fact sheet about breathing difficulties

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