42 answers

How long to wait for infant breathing treatments for wheezing?

My 4 month old son has had a persistent cough for the last couple of weeks and we took him to the doctor yesterday to make sure everything was okay. Doc said that the cough sounds fine, but when she listened to his chest with her stethoscope, she could hear him wheezing. SO, he was given a breathing treatment in her office after which his wheezing sounded much better. We were sent home with a nebulizer and a prescription for Xenepro and were advised to give him breathing treatments 3 times a day for the next couple of days, and then after that, as needed. Have any of you had any experience with this?? I know this is going to help him out, but I'm a little nervous about it! How long can I expect to have to give him these treatments?? Thanks for your help!!

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It depends on the child and healing time, each child is different, consult your pediatrician and read the article for other moms' experiences.

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When my son was around 10mos. old we had to do the breathing treatments for a while. We did the Xenepro as well. (I would not do Albuterol if you can help it. We had to do a breathing treatment of that this summer because he had pneumonia)
The breathing treatments seemed to work. They were a pain because he didn't like that steam going in his face. They definetly worked though. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 3 year old and a 19 month old that have both been on breathing treatments since they were very tiny. My older son was born at 33 weeks and gets really bad coughs and chest congestion. My younger son gets it but not nearly as bad. They are both prone to upper respiratory problems. Seems like every time they get a cold we end up witht the breathing machine out. When they aren't sick, I don't give them treatments. It is just as needed. They will grow out of it most likely though. I did. I had to have them all the time when I was young, now no problems at all.

Just keep with it because it really does help get them better quicker. Other wise the coughs stay around way too long. Good luck!

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When my son was around 10mos. old we had to do the breathing treatments for a while. We did the Xenepro as well. (I would not do Albuterol if you can help it. We had to do a breathing treatment of that this summer because he had pneumonia)
The breathing treatments seemed to work. They were a pain because he didn't like that steam going in his face. They definetly worked though. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My son had breathing problems (was hospitalized twice for them) from the time he was about 2 months till about 3 years old. At times, we had to do treatments every 2 hours. I know it is hard but it does help them. When me son was older (around 2) he use to ask for them.
If the problems continue - I would HIGHLY recommend Dr. Richard Rembecki in Frisco. He is a pediatric pulmonologist and so wonderful with children. The best doctor we have ever experienced. Hope that helps.

Also read some of the other responses. Asthma should not be diagnosed until 5 years of age because it is a life long disease. Any child under 5 with chronic breathing issues are usually diagnosed with Reactive Airways Disease (RAD) which is a very broad term and includes many respitory problems including asthma. Some children grow out of the problem (like my son).

1 mom found this helpful

My 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with asthma at 9 months and was given a nebulizer too. The older she has gotten, the less I have to give her a treatment. I usually give her preventive ones, like if I know the weather is going to drastically change from hot to cold or vice versa. I don't have to give them to her often, but when I do, they definetly help her breathe better, and I sleep better knowing she's ok. Channel 5 (NBC 5) had a new kind of nebulizer aimed at making kids less affraid of treatments. It was called the nebulizer bear or something like that. (its a teddy bear that has a spot in his back to add the medicine, and a spot in the stomach where the medicine comes out of) Go to NBC 5 website and search under Health and see if you can find it. I understand your concern, especially since you're baby is so young, but it will benefit your family in the long run! Hope all works out for you.

Talk about nerve racking - I've been there! My 2 1/2 year old son has been hospitalized once and we've been to the ER countless numbers of times due to his "wheezing" and asthma. My son was born a month premature (which you wouldn't know by looking at him) but his lungs were not developed enough, along with me having asthma made him more prone to getting it. Anyway, I have to give him treatments on an average of 3-4 times a year for approximately a week or two and then he gets better. It is scary at first but you get over that and realize it's helping & not hurting him. Hang in there....I'm here if you need to talk. I also have had to do these treatments on myself since I was 5 years old.

You should probably be prepared to continue the treatments for awhile. We were in and out of the doctor's office constantly with my youngest son when he was a baby. Since they don't consider a child asthmatic until 6 months of age (one day he's got bronchialitis and the next he's asthmatic because he turned 6 months), this won't be approached for a while. My 15 year old's asthma has been considered "controlled" for 3 years now. Be sure that, when your child gets older, he's given regular flow meter tests. My son got to the point where there was not improvement in his flow meter results even with all the medication he was on so I removed him from the meds when the doctor gave me that option. We haven't had a problem since except for the occasional mucous build up.

My daughter started on the treatments at 3months old. She is 4 1/2 and we still take them daily. She was using a Nebulizer using Xopenex and Pulimcort. Though they were a pain you can get a "fish mask" or another charater online or through the company that provided you with the mechine. Though they are a pain, they will get use to them and it will become second nature. When my daughter was older we let her pick out a package or two of stickers and everytime she did it with out any problems she got to put a stick on the mechine. You can try and dress it up with stickers, give him something to look at durring the treatment. IT DOSE GET BETTER!!! I PROMISE!! I was nervous at first but like i said i dont even think about it now. When he gets older they will switch him to a inhaler. Those are much much better. My daughter had to do the treatments until the meds were gone wich can take up to 30 mins. Good luck, hope i helpd any. If you have any questions or concerns message me i dont mind asnwering.

My son had to do the same thing at that age and the treatments work wonders. I would suggest trying to keep him still by reading him a book while you do it, turn on some calm music or a calm cartoon. They get used to it after a while and the treatments really helped us...the first few treatments were really tough and we felt horrible having to almost pin him down!

My twin 15 mo olds have the same issue. the pediatrician tried to explain to me that they are having "pre-asthma" symtoms, and that breathing treatments now may keep them from developing asthma at some time in the future. There are no relatives with asthma and I am very skeptical, except for the fact that they were born premature and maybe that has something to do with it. To me, it just seems that they have bad allergies and/or bronchitis and that the doctors are too quick to call it asthma. I mean, it almost seems like just about every kid has asthma now! Is it being overdiagnosed? Anyway, I have chosen to seek out a pulminary pediatrician for a second opinion on the 13th. Either they do have asthma or they don't, it seems to me, and I am not at this point all that confident that the pediatrician can diagnose it. After all, she did not even perform any kind of breathing test; she just declared that since they were wheezing they must be having asthma symptoms. Warning (and the doctor forgot to mention this to me) the Xenepro wires them up for about 5 hours, so if you give it to them right before bed thinking it will make them rest better, you are sooooo wrong - I had mine up all night long when I gave them Xenepro - which is really hard since as twins they are not really sleeping through the night yet at 15 mos. I am currently giving my twins the Pulmicort daily regimen per the doctor's instructions as preventive medicine and I will take them to the specialist on the 13th.

Hi C.,
My first little boy, started the same treatment regimen when he was about 7 months old and now he's 2 1/2 and has to use the nebulizer when he starts developing a bad cough. He probably was doing the treatments 2/day for at least 3 months or more. My 5 1/2 month old has been on the nebulizer treatment regimen (2/day) now since he was 4 months old and were still giving him treatments twice a day. Anyway, all that to say that we continued with the 2/day for awhile. My Pedi said that usually kiddos that have this asthmatic wheezing, it usually goes away by the age of 3 or so. Hope this info helps.

I have a 3 year old and a 19 month old that have both been on breathing treatments since they were very tiny. My older son was born at 33 weeks and gets really bad coughs and chest congestion. My younger son gets it but not nearly as bad. They are both prone to upper respiratory problems. Seems like every time they get a cold we end up witht the breathing machine out. When they aren't sick, I don't give them treatments. It is just as needed. They will grow out of it most likely though. I did. I had to have them all the time when I was young, now no problems at all.

Just keep with it because it really does help get them better quicker. Other wise the coughs stay around way too long. Good luck!

Awww, 4mo? Wow, that has to be interesting (giving breathing treatments). I have a 5yo. and 3 1/2 yo. daughters and they have both been on breathing treatments. You are lucky that they gave you a nebulizer, we had to purchase one ($100) and those are not covered by insurance. Since my oldest daughter is in Kindergarten now, we had to purchase a 2nd one for school to have. :( Anyway, I am not familiar with Xenepro....the main thing you want to know is if it a steroid, the steroids will raise your baby's heart rate. Considering they are telling you to do it 3x's a day, I am sure it is not a steroid. We have Zopinex and Pulmnicourt (steroid used 2xs a day for a few days IF weezing is really bad). Anyway, as for your question on how long you may have to do this? It all depends on your child and if he needs it. My 5yo needs it frequently since she also now diagnosed as being asthmatic. :( I wish you the best with your little boy, just remember, these treatments will really help him!

My son got RSV, a respitory illness when he was 9 months and was hospitalized for 3 days, from that day on untill he was 2 years old we gave him breathing treatments 1-3 times per day and it made a HUGE difference, it did not hurt him in any way, infact it saved us from making more trips to the ER, although we made many of them. im not saying your son will have the same issues my son did, apparently only 1 percent of kids that get REV are hospitalized or have my sons issues, so not to work. Anyway he has grown out of all his issues but if he has a nasty cold we pull out the nebulizer and give him a treatment, even with just saline it helps. I think it was a Godsend. good luck

Dont fret - My daughter was about the same age when her doctor put her on breathing treatments. At first is was a difficult task because the machine scared her. It broke my heart but we made it through... Now when she needs it (and it has been almost a year) she is a pro and puts the medicine herself and uses the machine until the medicine is all gone!!!

They learn quickly as they get older that the medicine helps them feel better, lol.....


I know how terrifying this can seem. My son was one breathing treatment away from being diagnosed with asthma... then poof! He never had trouble again. (Granted, I always take extra care to get rid of chest congestion!)

So, I guess I am saying that you could expect to give him treatments for years to come... or NEVER again. I know, it is of little help. But, if somebody would have told ME that - at least it would have given me Hope.

Good luck to you and your little boy.

I had to put my son on them when he was around 8 months old. They helped a lot. The good thing is that since it now belongs to you, you can use it for him whenever you feel a chest cold coming on. We still use it for my 3 year old, but not very often at all.

My son has asthma. We have had a nebulizer for many years. It will help him. My son's treatments last about 3-4 minutes. I think it depends on how much medicine the person puts in the nebulizer.When he was a baby I would just keep the mask in front of his mouth and nose because he would not keep it on. Good Luck!


Wow, that seems really early for breathing treatments. Did they do any other types of test? I would call an allergy doctor since they deal with asthma a lot. At least that is who treated mine.

We have a 7 year old daughter that has asthma, this started when she was 2 months old. The instruction that your doctor gave are typical and should work. I would save the last breathing treatment; right before he goes to bed it will assure that he will sleep comfortably through the night. As far as I can tell Xenepro is the most common breathing liquid solution given and is safe but it is a steroid so your son might be a bit more Hungary. Rest assure the treatments will work.
Good Luck!


I've been going through the same thing with my 5 month old son for the past few weeks. We gave him the breathing treaments three times a day for four days. It helped somewhat but he sure did hate it! I finally made my husband do it because I couldn't stand to hear him scream and wiggle for five minutes while I held that mask on his face. After we finished the treatments we took him back to the doctor and although he had improved, he still had to go on antibiotics because of a developing ear/sinus infection. Just this week we took him back to the doctor for the third time because he's still coughing, wheezing, congested, etc. and basically he's fine but the doctor said it may take a little while for him to get rid of this. But thank goodness no more medications or breathing treatments this time!

We went through two years of doing the exact same breathing treatments every time my now 4 year old son got a cold. He was eventually put on Singulair and Nasacourt, which are asthma meds. This may sound very kooky, but after 6 months of chiropractic adjustments, he was slowly taken off the asthma meds, and has not needed a single breathing treatment in 1 1/2 years. Now when he gets a cold, he simply has a cold and then gets better, rather than it turning into wheezing and major respiratory distress. I was very skeptical, but I had heard similar stories from a few acquaintances and decided to give it a try. If you go this route, be sure to find a chiropractor who is trained in pediatrics. A pediatric adjustment can be very different from an adult adjustment. If you're very skeptical, as you probably should be, just do an internet search on chiropractics and the effects on the nervous system. It is very interesting!

Hi C.,
3 of my 4 children have done the breathing treatments before - one at less than 2 months of age. They usually work really well and quickly too. My 3rd child is my wheezer and the nebulizer has saved us a trip to the ER before. The longest we have ever had to do them is one week and that is when the wheezing was really bad - usually after just one day there is dramatic improvement. If they cry and fuss it is actually good because it gets the medicine down into their lungs better!

I agree with E M T. It will help him. We have had to give them to my son and still do occasionally. If he cries, it actually helps get into his lungs better. We always put on a singing video for my son and he is somewhat distracted enough to sit there. However, when we first started, it took both myself and my husband to hold him down to give them. But it is for his own good, so you do what you have to do to help them.

Good luck

Your son is going to be just fine.I have been taking breathing treaments for a long time.It is not going to harm anyone.You have to put a type of medicine in the breathing treatment called Albuterol.It is not a bad kind of medicine.And, that is all it takes to take a breathing treatment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

C. - We have pictures of last Christmas giving our daughter her first breathing treatments. She hated them at first, but does not mind them now. We only use it when she starts to cough. I heard from a coworker that diligent breathing treatments now can curb asthma later in life. Breathing treatments are not fun, but it makes her cough go away and she feels better faster. (That might just be my justification to make me feel better about doing them!) Best of luck!

Did the physician give you a diagnosis? A cold or allergies? If allergy related (pollen from trees and ragweed is high now), we found that one of the best things for our son, to avoid the use of too much medication, was to keep clean everything that he touched or slept on and made sure he was bathed before going to bed. Lots of laundry, wiping down toys/baby furnishings and vacuuming but the indoor environment was best for him when the house was as sterile as we could get, including keeping the A/C and furnace filters clean. When he grew into outdoor sports and would have asthmatic conditions (hacking cough, wheezing, difficult breathing), he would immediately take his play clothes/uniforms off at the washer and then he was off to the shower. The shower not only washed away dirt and pollen but seemed to calm down the hard breathing. He used the breathing sprays only as the last resort to calm the airways.

that's the best thing he can do, it works very well and I prefer the nebulizer to all other medications. I am using it right now (same medicine) for my youngest one and she is doing better after 2 days.....when they start with cold, cough and snizing. when my 3 years old was younger she was afraid of the sound that the machine makes so I used it when she was sleeping... I always ask the doc for the nebulizer because I know that it works and it is safer than other drugs. Don't worry!!! good luck

we've had to do the same thing. Tis the season...

Here's my son at 4 months:

Same thing at 22 months:

Things to know:
He might cry throughout the whole thing. That's fine.
Turn on his favorite video and pump up the volume so he can hear it over the nebulizer.
Sing in his ear and make sure you do it loud enough so he can hear over the nebulizer.

At 4 months there's nothing you can do but suffer through it, but YES it WILL make him feel better and help him get all that junk out of his chest since he probably isn't coughing enough (or hard enough) on his own to get rid of it.

Follow your dr's instructions on how long to do it... We did it until we couldn't hear the rumbling in his chest... you know that sound you hear when you know he still has junk in his chest...

good luck!

I went through almost the same thing. A few weeks ago my 10mo. old son had a dry cough over the weekend. I made a doctors appointment for him on that Monday. When I picked him up from the sitters I noticed he was breathing weird. I figured he had just got through playing hard so I didn't think much of it. As we were sitting in the doctors office his stomach and chest started going in and out real fast and I could tell he was having trouble breathing. I panicked and ran up to the counter while crying telling them that something was wrong with my baby and that they needed to check him out. As we rushed back to the back they put an oxygen machine on him to see how much air he was getting in and it was pretty low. They ended up diagnosing him with Asthma. They gave him a steroid shot and a breathing treatment. We had to do 4 breathing treatments a day for 10 days with two medications. After the 10 days we started weaning him off of them and now it has been a week since he has had one. So far we haven't had any more problems. He is on an as needed basis now.

My son is 2.5 and about a year ago he had a pretty bad upper respiratory infection. The dr. diagnosed it as "broncholitis" and after having a breathing treatment & giving us some antibiotics sent us home with a nebulizer.
Just last week he was sick again & so we went back to the dr & talked everything through. The dr. is reluctant to diagnose him as an Asthmatic because that will follow him potentially causes him problems later in life, i.e: not getting insurance because of a "pre-existing" condition, keeping him out of the military, stuff like that.
Anyway, the only time we ever use the breathing treatments is if he gets a cough.The we give him the breathing treatments, turn on the humidifier in his room & give him some medicine. It seems with him that if we catch it early & "hit it hard" then the cough lasts only a day or two at the most rather than a week if we try to wait it out.
Also, we were given new tubing from the hospital that has a dragon face painted on it. Our little guy thinks it's hilarious & when he has to take a treatment we'll ask if he wants to "breathe like a dragon." It gets him every time & makes it easier on everyone. Maybe check with a medical supply store or something to find out where to get one. Good luck & hope your kiddo feels better soon!!

I have twin boys and they had to use a nebulizer when they were younger..You give them the treatment vial is gone usually takes about 15 mins and hopefully they gave you the mast instead of the tube to hold thus making it alot easier with the baby being so young....With my boys we had to do the treatments for like 4 days then as needed for the wheezing...For your sake I hope it doesn't wire yours up like it did mine they were wound like kookoo clocks....LOL Good luck and god bless...

Be consistent for two weeks!! Then talk to your insurance and doctor about purchasing a nebulizer of your own (insurance pays). Everytime you notice any conjestion or cough give him a treatment, this has been my saving grace with our son. He got phnemonia at 4mos and I have done this since and he has been sick since. Hope this helps!!

I had to do this for a few years with my youngest. It was really a godsend. He won't become addicted or anything like that. The only probably was that my daughter would get scared and cry because of the noise, so somebody would have to sit and look at a book with her or something while she had her treatment. Other than that, everything was fine.

I would give my son his while he was asleep, I still do. Don't touch his face just hold it close enough to get the medicine. you can see it going in his nose. If I had to give one awake, I would sit on the floor with him Indian style with him in between my legs with a bunch of toys and play while I held it under his chin. The medicine flows up and he would breath it in. Sometimes he would fight and it would simply end up holding him screaming and crying but it really does help.

I have a two year old and her first treatment was at 2 months. We did treatments for a couple weeks. Then on and off as she got older. I was also told by my Dr. that if I see a runny nose or hear a little congestion to give her a treatment to prevent an infection. Dr. said that it will keep the airways unblocked and keep the mucus from building up, which causes bacteria to grow( which is what causes infections). Now she holds the mask by herself and sits quietly through a whole treatment. She also takes Xenepro, which is milder than Albuterol.

I have never heard of this so yougn. I know I have had asthma over the years and it seems to be under control now, but there is nothing scarier then not being able to breath. The more you try you prduce this mucuous and it gets worse. I and my son went in for emergency treatments and they wait until you have all that paper work done and once I had it much better. I wanted one at homr for emergencies, but never had it. My sisters children grew up with one in their home. Better to breath then fight for it. Thank God you caught it early. I think child hood allergies are easier to outgrow. I got mine as an adult. G. W

I have an 8 year old daughter who started on breathing treatments when she was around 6 months old. She was diagnosed with asthma. When she started the treatments xenepro was not available. She was placed on Albuterol. At first it was hard because she would fight me every second of the treatment. She had such side effects like shakiness and nervousness. With the new medicine xenepro there really are no side effects. How long you will have to give these for will depend on your childs lungs. I promise that it will get easier. My daughter just got removed from all her medications. For the first time in years she is able to play without difficulty breathing. Its wonderful. I give alot of credit to the breathing treatments. Just hang in there.

My son has had breathing issues seens he was 2 weeks old. Bronchitis. We battled Bronchitis for when he was 2 weeks till he was 4 months old. But than every fall and winter he would get it again. At the age of 2 the doctors told me he has Asthma. I am tell you all of this to say my son is on breathing treatments twice a day with Pulmicort from Nov. to the end of June. Than we use Xopenex for when he is having an Asthma attack. As a baby they told me the same thing they told you. When he was coughing to treat he and it worked. For how long you can expect them, I don't know. For me and my son alot. I this helps! Good luck!

My daughter had to do that. It seems like its scary but its pretty easy. Especially when they are that young. It gets hard when they have a strong kick and scream. I just wouldn't put him with anyone that smokes. My mom watches my daughter and I had to keep her away for two weeks because she smokes and She could get asthma. Just be patient... it really is easy.

First off, do not worry! Many, many, many children in S. Central TX receive breathing treatments. This area is the worst place in the US to live for allergies and asthma.

That being said, no need to pack up and move. Breathing treatments will only help your son. If the doctor said you only have to do them for the next couple of days, then he is not very bad. My 6 year old was born w/asthma and my 3 year old was diagnosed shortly after he turned 1. It doesn't sound as if your dr. diagnosed asthma. Anyways, my point is that we have done treatments pretty much year round w/both of my children and they tolerate it just fine. Some side-effects are a rapid heart-beat, jittery feeling, and hyper-activity with steroid inhalents. (Don't think your son was given steroids.)

Just follow your dr's orders exactly and your son will be fine. Again, don't worry, I think about 3/4 of parents in the SA area have given their kids breathing treatments. I'm sure if you ask around you'll get all kinds of support.

I have asthma and 2 of my 5 kiddos have it pretty badly too. My oldest will likely have to do them for the rest of her life. Dont look at it as a burden.. My 4yr likes his treatments... He likes the "smoke" that comes out.

If you're like me I just don't like giving meds to myself or the kids, BUT sometimes we have to in order to get past a hump. I have twins who were born premature at 25 weeks gestation. For the first two years during the cold and flu season, one twin notoriously got runny noses and chest congestion. I thought it would never end. At a very young age, like your son, several times each year he needed treatments and we would give it to him. He usually would fall asleep. It really helps him breath better and by the second year he was a pro at it. He was a "big boy" (age 2) and would run to our bed and prop the pillows and get the mask ready and say "I want to turn it on" and he would hold the mask all by himself. At three, he didn't need any treatments and we pray this year is the same as last year.

I had bronchitis a few years ago and I used my son's treatment on myself (doc said it was ok) and WOW it works.

I hope this puts your mind at ease. Take care of yourself C., so you can take care of baby!


My son has been using a nebulizer off and on since he was 7 months old (He is 3 now). If the cough and wheezing continues, your Doctor will probably recommend you to a Pulmonary Doctor. We have been doing that for the last 1.5 years and just recently got released from the Pulmonary Doctor. The Pulmonary Doctor put my son on singular and the nebulizer as needed. In the last year we have hardly used the nebulizer. I hope it is something he is out growing. I would watch for certain times of the year and check what might be more active in the air (mold, pollen, ragweed, etc). My son seems to spike from August to December. I believe the singular has really helped as a daily preventative.

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