Breath holding spells in children : are they really life threatening?

Breath holding spells in children : are they really life threatening?

Breath holding spells in children : are they really life threatening?

Breath holding spells in kids- are they threatening for their lives? A lot of us have heard tales about stubborn infants who hold their breath till they turn pale and blue in the face. It may appear as an amusing story, but it is not funny to the parents of these children. Breath holding spells are hazardous for parents because kids hold their breath till they pass out.

Remember kids do not do it intentionally. They are involuntary reflex which means they aren’t in control of the child. It appears upsetting to see your kid like that but they do not likely pose serious threat your child. A spell just lasts for a minute or so before the child commences to breathe normal.

The spell can happen in kids of age from 6 months to 6 years but they are mostly common in the second year. They are common in kids with a family history in it. In several cases, parents can predict breath holding spells and even prevent it from triggering. After the kids surpass 5 to 6 years, they outgrow this habit.

Different kinds of breath holding spells

You have different types of breath holding spells depending on characteristics and cause:

1.       Cyanotic breath holding spells can occur when the baby stops breathing and the face turns blue. The spells are triggered when the child gets upset about something or has been scolded. When the toddler cries, he/ she exhales and breathes out but doesn’t let another breathe come in. Parents who have seen cyanotic spell before know when this one is about to happen again because they can witness the blueness on the face of their child. The color change is from light blue to purple.

2.       Pallid breath holding spells are unpredictable and not so common as they occur when the child gets suddenly frightened or startled. The kid turns pale and white during this issue.

Both the spells make the kid stop breathing and sometimes they get unconscious for a minute. Under extreme situation, kids may suffer from seizures. Getting a seizure doesn’t lead to any long term harm or puts your child at risk of any seizure disorder development.

What if the child passes out during the spell?

A number of times, you do not need to take any remedy for breath holding spell. Your baby should lay down till the spell is over. If your child passes out for a minute, do these steps:

1.       Check the mouth of the child for food any object which may pose a choking hazard as soon as the child gains consciousness

2.       Get rid of all the objects or things which reach of your child who has seizure.

When to see the physician?

If this is the first time your child has experienced breath holding spell, then you should get instant medical care. Though breath holding spells aren’t harmful, but it is important to get your baby checked thoroughly. A physician will determine whether it is a real breath holding spell and it needs medical attention or not.

These spells are involuntary reflex action to strong emotions like frightened, frustrated, angry and tend to be in health kids too. Being involuntary in nature, they are not a behavioural issue of the child. A doctor helps the parents to understand what leads to this condition in your child and how it can be prevented future spells and how to handle them in case if it happens in the future.

Sometimes, anemia or iron deficiency may also lead to breath holding spells. Thus, if the doctors suspect it, then you can go for a blood test.

Preventing these spells in the future

As the kids starts to grow and develop better coping abilities, they outgrow this problem. But till the time, the kids reach this age, parents face a tough challenge bigger than just seeing the spells. It is important to find discipline in the child which won’t trigger another spell.

Your doctor can help you look out for coping strategies for your child and you. Do not submit to the tantrums of your child or to their stubborn behavior. Make your child know his/ her limit and adjust accordingly.

With courage, love and your physician’s help, you can know the right way to cope up with the breath holding spells of your child till they learn to outgrow it