On a normal day, you take nearly 25,000 breaths. Your child takes even more: An infant may take more than 86,000 breaths each day.
As we breathe, our lungs take in oxygen and bring it to the bloodstream. From there, it is delivered throughout the body, allowing body parts to grow and function. The lungs also help remove a gas called carbon dioxide, which can be toxic if it stays in the body.
If your child’s lungs aren’t working correctly, they may have a pulmonary condition — a health issue that affects the lungs and breathing. These conditions lead to many different types of problems, such as difficulty breathing, constant fatigue, or poor growth.
What Sets Children’s Apart?
When your child has lung or breathing problems, you want to be sure he or she is in caring and competent hands. That’s where Children’s Hospital & Medical Center can give excellent care:
- We are the region’s largest and most comprehensive center for diagnosing, managing, and treating pulmonary disorders in children.
- Our Cystic Fibrosis Center is the only accredited pediatric center in the state.
- We have the only outpatient clinic in the area that provides full-service diagnostic testing, including exercise and food allergy tests, as well as sweat tests for cystic fibrosis.
- We work hand-in-hand with our Sleep Lab and clinic, which is the only accredited pediatric sleep clinic in the state.
Our Project AIR program, which aims to decrease asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations by removing asthma triggers from homes, was honored with a Healthy Homes Star Award from the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance.
Conditions We Treat
We treat a wide variety of respiratory conditions. The most common ones include:
AsthmaA child’s airways become inflamed (swollen), making it difficult to breathe normally. It can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are brought on by triggers, such as allergies (e.g., fur, mold), exercise, or weather changes. When this occurs, it is called a flare-up, also known as an asthma attack or asthma episode. Asthma may be treated with daily medication, as well as emergency medication for flare-ups.
Chronic CoughCough that lasts more than 4 weeks. It can be brought on by a variety of causes, including asthma, nasal and sinus disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), viral infections, objects inhaled through the nose (e.g., toys, food), or exposure to chemicals (e.g., tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust). Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the chronic cough. For example, if the cough is caused by asthma, your child may be prescribed an inhaler.
Cystic FibrosisCystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that attacks the lungs and digestive system. Children with cystic fibrosis are at a higher risk for lung infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. They may also have a persistent cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, or poor growth. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis, but there are treatments to lessen symptoms and improve quality of life. Learn about the Cystic Fibrosis Center.
Recurrent PneumoniaAn infection of the lungs. It can be caused by many different bacteria or viruses, such as certain types of strep or staph infections, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or the flu. Symptoms may include coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, chest pain, decreased appetite, or fever. Pneumonia is often treated with prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. In severe cases, your child may need to be treated in the hospital.
Shortness Of BreathUncomfortable breathing that can make a child feel like they’re not getting enough air. It is usually due to heart or lung conditions, such as asthma or pneumonia. However, it can sometimes be triggered by an activity, such as exercise. Call 9-1-1 or take your child to the Emergency Department if the shortness of breath comes on suddenly or severely interferes with the ability to breathe, or if your child is experiencing chest pain.
StridorHigh-pitched whistling sounds that occur during breathing, when an airway is blocked. Blockage is usually in the upper airway (nose, mouth, sinuses, voice box, or windpipe), and is more common when a child breathes out than when they breathe in. Stridor can be caused by infections, injuries, or swallowed objects that get caught in the airway. Treatment may include daily medications, inhalers, surgery, or a referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.
WheezingHigh-pitched whistling sounds that occur when an airway is blocked. It usually is due to a blockage within the chest, and is more common when a child breathes in than when they breathe out. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) are the two main causes. Your child’s treatment plan may include daily medications, inhalers, surgery, or a referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.
Other conditions we treat include:
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Conditions requiring home mechanical ventilation/tracheostomy
- Congenital and acquired airway problems
- Congenital lung abnormalities
- Exercise limitation and exercise-related breathing disorders
- Interstitial lung diseases
- Neuromuscular respiratory diseases
- Noisy breathing
- Post-transplant care following lung transplantation
- Pulmonary aspiration
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Recurrent infections
- Sleep disorders
- Vocal cord dysfunction
We also work closely with providers at the Sleep Center and Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Clinic when treating children with complex issues (conditions that require care from multiple areas of medicine).
Additional Clinics And Services
The Nebraska Regional Cystic Fibrosis Center
The Nebraska Regional Cystic Fibrosis Center, with clinics located at both Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), is the only Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-accredited center in the region.
Read more about the Nebraska Regional Cystic Fibrosis Center.
The Aerodigestive Clinic provides care to children with complex problems involving the airway and digestive tract as well as feeding challenges.
We evaluate and treat children with:
- Anatomic issues of the pharynx, larynx, or esophagus that make feeding through the mouth difficult
- Feeding and swallowing issues, aspiration, reflux, and special feeding needs
- Neurologic conditions that affect breathing and swallowing
Pulmonary Diagnostics Laboratory
Children’s state-of-the-art Pulmonary Diagnostics Lab provides testing for a variety of pediatric respiratory, cardiac, and metabolic conditions.
Learn about the tests conducted at the Pulmonary Diagnostics Laboratory.
What To Do Next?
To schedule an appointment at any of our clinics or locations, call 402-955-5570.
A referral from your child’s provider is required to schedule an appointment with the Aerodigestive Clinic.
For Referring Providers
The Physicians’ Priority Line is your 24-hour link to pediatric specialists at Children’s for referrals, emergency and urgent consults, physician-to-physician consults, admissions, and transport services. Call 855-850-KIDS (5437).
Learn more about referring patients.