What is breath holding spell?
A breath holding spell is a condition in which a child stop breathing and fall unconscious for up to a minute. Children may unintentionally experience these spells when they are frustrated or in pain.
There are 2 types of breath holding spells:
- Cyanotic spell happens when the child is angry.
- Pallid spell happens when the child’s heart rate drops.
What are the symptoms of breath holding spell?
Children usually have breath holding spells between the age of 6 months to 6 years old. While some children only have a spell occasionally, some can have them a few times everyday. Symptoms of breath holding spells include unconsciousness, muscle twist, seizure, heart beat changes (slower or faster than normal), skin color changes and even crying.
Could a breath holding spell related with medical condition?
In most cases, breath holding spells will disappear on its own when the child grows up without any complication. However, what looks like a casual spell may result from much more serious medical conditions such as seizure disorder or iron deficiency anemia. So, if your children start to experience breath holding spells, take them to a doctor for a proper diagnosis. You should write down what happens during each spell since those details can greatly help.
How to treat breath holding spell?
Breath holding spells do not require treatment. To reduce the frequency of them, get your children sufficient rest and make sure they always feel safe. If the spells happen more often or more serious, tell your doctor.
During the spell, keep the child in a safe place where nothing can hurt him/her. After the spell is gone, do not punish your child since it is not his/her fault. However, do not give it too much attention either. Your child may perceive this as a way to get attention and try to fake it. That is why you should ignore your child’s breath holding episodes if there is no fainting, just like the way you ignore his/her tantrums.
As parents, you can help with your child’s condition by keeping the child from situations that may provoke breath holding spells. Find another way to discipline your child that is strict but your child can still handle without being too frightened. It is also a good idea to teach your child how to deal with negative emotions. This kind of lessons will benefit your child for his/her whole life.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.