FAQ’s: Childhood Pneumonia

All about childhood pneumonia and how to protect kids from it.

Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary

Did you know that pneumonia is one of the main causes of death in children below the age of 5 years?

Kids are really sensitive, their immune system is still in the process of developing which makes them much more prone to all kinds of infections. Pneumonia is infection of the lungs and has symptoms very similar to cold and cough.

Although extremely scary pneumonia is easily curable with the right kind of treatment and proper attention. As parents we always worry about our kids well being and good health, with the right kind of information pneumonia gets much easier to defect in the early phases. Thus, it is extremely important to learn about the disease to beat it.

 

What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is the infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, virus and fungi. Air sacs present in the lungs known as alveoli are filled with fluid or pus which makes it extremely hard for the oxygen to reach the bloodstream. Kids are much more susceptible to this disease and often fall prey to it. Unlike before pneumonia is not fatal, all that is needed is timely and proper treatment with the right kind of required care. .

What Causes Pneumonia In Children?

Pneumonia in kids is caused by a variety of germs like bacteria, virus, fungi, and parasites. Pneumonia mostly starts after an upper respiratory tract infection which has very common symptoms of common cold like runny nose and sore throat etc. The symptoms like high fever, difficulty in breathing, weakness mostly begin after 2 -3 days of of cold or sore throat, these symptoms demand immediate medical attention.

The infection if not treated gradually spreads to the lungs, filling the air spaces with fluid or pus. Leading to blockage of the air passage, making it difficult for the lungs to work. Kids hate falling sick and continue with their daily routine of playing and acting themselves which is also termed as walking pneumonia and is often confused with viral fever and cold.

 

What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia In A Child?

The identification of nay disease is based on the symptoms, the common symptoms of childhood pneumonia includes:

  • Fever the most common symptom, accompanied with chills, sweating and flushed skin
  • Resistant cough
  • Loss of apatite
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Flaring or widening of tonsils
  • Pain in the chest, mostly while coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Bluish lips and nails due to decreased oxygen in the bloodstream
  • Stomach pains
  • Tiredness

 

Can A Child Go To School With Pneumonia?

Yes, also called as walking pneumonia is often mistaken for normal episode of cough and cold. The symptoms are not that severe and are usually do not seem serious. A child with runny nose and fever needs immediate attention, proper medical care and complete rest. Sending a sick child to school can also spread the germs to other healthy kids and make them sick as well.

 

How Long It Takes To Recover From Pneumonia In A Child?

Recovery varies from child to child, it depends on the general health, age and how severe the condition is; with proper treatment, rest and complete care the child can easily be cured and restored with the same level of energy. Different types of bacterial pneumonia can generally be cured within 1 to 2 weeks. Walking pneumonia and viral pneumonia may take 4 to 6 weeks to go away completely.

 

How Is  Pneumonia Diagnosed?

The real concern lies in the proper diagnosis of pneumonia which often escapes the attention. Proper diagnosis of pneumonia in children includes the following steps:

  • Examination by a doctor
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood test
  • A pulse oximeter is also used which helps to see if the child is getting enough oxygen or not

 

What Is The Treatment Of Pneumonia?

Treatment of pneumonia is based on its etiology of the infection causing organism, age and the clinical status of the child. Antibiotics are mostly used to cure pneumonia and fight the infection, though the antibiotic administration depends on the organism causing it:

Virus: Does not require antibiotics

Bacteria: Can be treated with antibiotics, the antibiotic type will depend on the type of bacteria that has caused Pneumonia

Ways To Treat Pneumonia At Home 

Home treatment is vital for the recovery of Pneumonia which basically includes:

  • Proper rest
  • Having plenty of fluid to stay hydrated
  • Taking care of a cough
  • Eating healthy
  • Pain relief medication incase of pain

If the child is on home treatment and still there is no improvement or looks worse, it is essential to take them back to the doctor for evaluation. They may require hospitalization.

Hospitalization in case of pneumonia is based on the child’s symptoms and symptoms. The doctor will consider hospitalization in case of:

  • If the child has difficulty in breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Problem taking antibiotics through their mouth
  • Breathing is very fast
  • Has low oxygen levels in their blood
  • Has another lung, heart or immune deficiency condition
  • In case of bacterial pneumonia running a cool mist, humidifier is used

 

How To Prevent Pneumonia In Babies?

To increase the chances of preventing pneumonia it is important to keep the below steps in attention:

  • Keep the vaccination timely and be up to date with them
  • Children should be made to practice good personal hygiene, like washing hands, don’t let the child share cups or utensils with other kids. In babies’ bottles, sipper, teethers should be cleaned and sterilized
  • Make home smoke free
  • Keep the child away children or adults who are sick

 

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

Pneumonia is not contagious. The upper respiratory tract bacteria or virus that causes pneumonia are infectious and present in the fluid of the mouth or nose of the infected person. Hence it can spread by coughing or sneezing.

Pneumonia can happen to people of any age, from small babies to old people; To fight it, know about it!

 

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