What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung that causes fluid to collect in the air sacs ( alveoli ). Symptoms include:
- labored breathing
- rapid breathing
- occasionally painful breathing
- l coughing
- fever, sometimes with chills.
Most rattly breathing is not pneumonia. Your child needs to see a health care provider to check if he or she has pneumonia.
What is the cause?
About 80 % of pneumonia cases are caused by viruses and 20% by bacteria.
Viral pneumonia is usually milder than bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia tends to occur more suddenly and cause higher fevers ( often over 104 °F, or 40 °C ).
Pneumonia is usually a complication of a cold. Although colds can be passed from person to person, bacterial pneumonia is not considered contagious.
How long does it last?
Before antibiotics were available, bacterial pneumonia was dangerous. With antibiotics, it improves within 24 to 48 hours. On the other hand, viral pneumonia can continue for 2 to 4 weeks. Recovery from viral pneumonia is gradual but complete.
Most children with pneumonia can be cared for at home. Admission to the hospital for oxygen or intravenous fluids is required in less than 10% of cases. Most children admitted to the hospital are young infants or children who have extensive involvement of the lungs ( as determined by an x-ray ).
How is it diagnosed?
The pediatrician will review your child’s symptoms and examine your child. The pediatrician will check for fever and breathing problems. He or she will listen to the lungs.
The following tests help detect pneumonia. They also help the pediatrician know what medicine your child need :
- chest x-ray
- blood tests
How can I take care of my child?
- Give your child an antibiotic to get rid of the infection. If your child is diagnosed of bacterial pneumonia, our pediatrician will prescribe an antibiotic.
- Give your child medicine for fever.
- Give warm fluids for your child's cough. Thick sticky mucus makes your child cough. Warm fluids help thin out and loosen the mucus. Try warm lemonade, warm apple juice, or herbal tea.
- leep the air in your child's bedroom moist.
- Do not smoke near your child. Smoke makes your child's cough worse. It makes the cough last longer.
When should I take my child to the hospital again?
Return IMMEDIATELY if :
- Breathing becomes more labored or difficult.
- Your child starts acting very sick.
Return within 24 hours if :
- The fever lasts over 48 hours after your child starts taking antibiotic.
- The cough lasts over 3 weeks.
- You have other questions or concerns.