“Therefore in medicine, we ought to know the causes of sickness and health.”---Avicenna

 Respiration Rate

What is the respiration rate?

The respiration rate is the number of breaths a person takes per minute. The rate is usually measured when a person is at rest and simply involves counting the number of breaths for one minute by counting how many times the chest rises and falls.  Respiration rates may increase with fever, illness, and with other medical conditions.

The normal respiratory rate for babies from birth to 6 months is 30 to 60 breaths per minute; after the age of 6 months, breathing has slowed to 24 to 30 breaths per minute.  For children from the age of 1 to 5 years old, normal respiration is 20 to 30 breaths per minute.  Children who are from 6 to 12 years old should have a normal respiratory rate that ranges from 12 to 20 breaths per minute. The normal respiratory rate for adults and children over the age of 12 ranges from 14 to 18 breaths per minute. Younger adults, children, and babies will have faster respiratory rates, because as people age, their breathing slows.

Abnormally slow breathing, called bradypnea, may be the symptom of a metabolic disorder or a tumor.  Bradypnea may occur during sleep, and can be induced through the use of opiate narcotics. Apnea, when a person's breathing completely stops, can be caused by a number of conditions. Some of the usual causes of apnea in children are asthma, bronchiolitis, gastro-esophageal reflux, seizures, or premature births.

When checking respiration, it is important to also note whether a person has any difficulty breathing.  Normal respiration rates for an adult person at rest range from 15 to 20 breaths per minute. Respiration rates over 25 breaths per minute or under 12 breaths per minute (when at rest) may be considered abnormal.