11 Common Symptoms of Pneumonia in Kids

Pneumonia is one of the most common conditions that affect children below five years old. It’s an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. When kids have pneumonia, their small sacs in the lungs fill up with pus and liquid, limiting oxygen intake and making it painful for them to breathe.

What Causes Pneumonia in Kids?

Children and infants may acquire pneumonia when any of the following get into or spread in their lungs:

  • Viruses or bacteria living in their nose, mouth or sinuses
  • Germs
  • Liquids, food or vomit
  • Transmission of viruses or bacteria (i.e., through air-borne droplets from sneezing or coughing or via blood transmission during or shortly after birth)

What Are the Risk Factors of Pneumonia in Kids?

Several factors may increase a child’s risk of developing pneumonia. These include:

  • A compromised immune system
  • A pre-existing illness (e.g., measles)
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Living in a crowded home
  • Parental smoking

What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia in Kids?

Please reach out to a pediatrician if your child experiences any of the following signs and symptoms of pneumonia:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fast breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite or poor feeding
  • Grunting or wheezing sounds when breathing
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

How Do Doctors Diagnose Pneumonia in Kids?

During an initial evaluation, a doctor checks the breathing pattern, appearance and vital signs of the child. Using a stethoscope, they’ll watch out for abnormal sounds and crackles. If the initial findings suggest it’s pneumonia, a doctor may also request any of the following tests and screenings to properly diagnose the condition:

  • Blood tests
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Chest X-ray
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Computed tomography (CT scan) of the chest
  • Swallowing tests

What Are the Treatment Options for Pneumonia?

If the child’s pneumonia is caused by bacteria, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics. However, if the condition is caused by a virus, a doctor may recommend anti-viral medicine, especially when detected early.

Children who experience breathing problems, lasting high fever, vomiting or those who need oxygen may require hospitalization. The treatment options for confined patients may include IV antibiotics and fluids and the use of a ventilator to help them breathe. Meanwhile, more serious cases of pneumonia may need close monitoring at an intensive care unit (ICU).

How to Protect Your Child Against Pneumonia?

Routine vaccinations can help prevent some types of pneumonia. Please consult your pediatrician to learn which types of vaccines are best for your child. Additionally, as much as possible, keep your child away from anyone with symptoms of pneumonia, viruses or a respiratory infection.

You can also protect your child against many types of conditions by encouraging good hygiene, addressing indoor air pollution (if applicable) and strengthening their immune system with the help of a nutritious diet, regular exercise and quality sleep.

How Can You Help a Child Suffering from Pneumonia?

If your child has pneumonia, please strictly follow your doctor’s advice regarding treatment or medication. Please help your child drink lots of water and get plenty of rest as their body tries to fight the infection. Making your child feel loved, cared for and supported can also do wonders during this time.

World Health Organization

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