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Breathing (respiration) is the essential process of thehuman body. It provides oxygen for the body and takes away the carbon dioxidefrom the blood. This is what it does, but how we do it also matters. It canreveal the condition of our body and point to some medical conditions.

Respiratory rate is the number of breaths in units of time. Whatwe measure is how many times a person inhale and exhale in a minute, and theunits of respiratory rate are breaths per minute. When measuring respiratoryrate, we should count the numbers of time someone’s chest expanded and contractedin one minute. Children and athletes might have extremely high respiratory rate,even 75 breaths per minute, while some other adults may breathe just 12 timesin the same 60 seconds.

Normal Respiratory Rate

Normal respiratory rate should be measured while the personis at rest, and, if possible, without any stressful events. Many factors affectthe normal rate, including the age and gender of the patient. Age, especially,can lower the normal respiratory rate significantly. Certain medical problems ofthe patients can also increase of decrease the rate. Seizures, premature birthand acid reflux disease are some of these conditions. Lung problems, such asasthma or bronchitis might be responsible for lower or higher respiratory rate,too.

Children normally have much higher normal respiratory ratethan adults. For newborns, it is considered normal to breathe 30 to 60 times inone minute. Babies up to 6 months breath20 to 40 breaths in 60 seconds, while young children (up to 5 years) have 20 to30 breaths per minute. Older children usually have 16 to 25 breaths in oneminute.

Adults breathe less often, but because of the development ofthe lung they can inhale much more air than children. Doctors agree that anadult person should breathe some 12 to 20 times per minute.


This is the condition when patient’s respiratory ratedecreases significantly. In most cases, it is caused by metabolic disorder ortumor. People sleeping, using benzodiazepines, morphine or other narcotics orabusing alcohol might also have bradypnea.


Respiratory rate faster than normal is known as tachypnea. Inchildren, it can be caused by a common cold, fly, asthma or pneumonia. The commoncauses of tachypnea in adults are lung and breathing problems, such as asthma,COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or pulmonary embolism.


When a person stops breathing it is called apnea. Sleepapnea happens during the night sleep, because of the blocked airways. Chocking,asthma, cardiac arrest or abuse of drugs may also lead to apnea.

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