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Dyspnea is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Pediatric Consult.

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A subjective experience of breathing discomfort that consists of qualitatively distinct sensations that varies in intensity


Abnormality in one of the following elements:

  • Respiratory controller (breathing rate, depth)
  • Ventilatory pump (chest wall, pleura, airways)
  • Gas exchanger (alveoli, capillaries)
  • Cardiovascular derangements (cardiac output)


  • Respiratory
    • Upper airway
      • Infection (croup, tracheitis, peritonsillar abscess, epiglottitis)
      • Foreign body
      • Anaphylaxis
      • Anatomic abnormalities
      • Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD)/paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM)
    • Lower airway
      • Asthma
      • Aspiration
      • Airway malacia
      • Hemorrhage
      • Internal/external fixed compression (tumor, cyst, vascular)
    • Parenchymal lung disease
      • Infection (viral, bacterial, fungal)
      • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
      • Atelectasis
      • Chronic lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], cystic fibrosis)
    • Chest wall disorder
      • Neuromuscular weakness (Duchenne muscular dystrophy [DMD], spinal muscular atrophy [SMA])
      • Scoliosis
      • Pectus excavatum
    • Pleural
      • Pleural effusion
      • Pneumothorax
  • Cardiovascular
    • Cardiac
      • Elevated pulmonary venous pressure
      • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
    • Vascular
      • Pulmonary hypertension (PH)
      • Pulmonary embolism (PE)
  • Toxic/metabolic
    • Metabolic acidosis (diabetic ketoacidosis [DKA], salicylate intoxication, renal tubular acidosis [RTA])
    • Renal failure causing fluid overload
  • Other
    • Anemia
    • Deconditioning
    • Obesity
    • Panic attack
    • Pregnancy
    • Trauma
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

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Cabana, Michael D., editor. "Dyspnea." 5-Minute Pediatric Consult, 8th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Pediatrics Central, peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617624/all/Dyspnea.
Dyspnea. In: Cabana MD, ed. 5-Minute Pediatric Consult. 8th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617624/all/Dyspnea. Accessed April 19, 2019.
Dyspnea. (2019). In Cabana, M. D. (Ed.), 5-Minute Pediatric Consult. Available from https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617624/all/Dyspnea
Dyspnea [Internet]. In: Cabana MD, editors. 5-Minute Pediatric Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 19]. Available from: https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617624/all/Dyspnea.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Dyspnea ID - 617624 ED - Cabana,Michael D, BT - 5-Minute Pediatric Consult UR - https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617624/all/Dyspnea PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 8 DB - Pediatrics Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -