Respiratory Rate Normal Values for Newborns to Older Adults


respiratory rate

The client's respiratory rate is assessed by counting the number of breaths for 1 minute (cycles per minute or cpm). A complete respiratory cycle consists of an inspiratory phase and an expiratory phase. Respiratory cycle indicates that there's movement of air in and out of the body. Normal respiratory rates are dependent upon age.

Normal respiratory rates for newborns through older adults:

Newborn: 30-80 cpm
3 to 9 years: 20-30 cpm
10-15 years: 16-22 cpm
16-adult: 15-20 cpm
Adult: 12-20 cpm
Older adults: 15-25 cpm

The respiratory rate in some clients may increase of they become aware that their breaths are being counted. For this reason, the nurse should maintain the pair of counting the radial pulse while counting breaths per minute.

Factors that Influence Respiratory Rate

Age - as said above, normal respiratory rate depends on age.
Exercise - respiratory rate increases with exercise.
Stress - respiratory rate increases with stress.
Temperature - an increase in temperature may result to increase in respiratory rate.
Altitude - an increase in altitude may result to increase in respiratory rate.
Medications - variety of medications may either increase or decrease respiratory rate.


Eupnea - this means normal breathing.
Dyspnea - means shortness of breath or difficulty of breathing.
Apnea - total absence of breathing.
Bradypnea - lower than 12 cycles per minute or lower than the normal range respiratory rate.
Tachypnea - higher than 20 cycles per minute or higher than the normal range of respiratory rate.

Oxygen Saturation

Oxygen saturation of hemoglobin is married using a pulse oximeter. The pulse oximeter use a sensor and a photo detector to determine the light sent and absorbed by the hemoglobin. A value of 95% to 100% is considered normal, while a value of 70% is considered to be life threatening.

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