Last Updated on 3 June 2019 by Dr Shivangi
Kids keep having colds and cough.
But a simple cold can take a drastic turn towards Pneumonia and make you worry!
This is even more scary!
- Every 20 sec, a child dies because of pneumonia
- Pneumonia accounts for 16% of all deaths in children under 5 years
- The disease progresses quickly in children, and thus, can land you in an emergency room
That said, you SHOULD know if your child has a bad cold or Pneumonia and what action to take.
So, take a seat, and grab a cup of coffee as you read about pneumonia in kids. (that will make you relax)
What is Pneumonia?
In simple terms, Pneumonia is an infammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, and chemical irritants. Due to the inflammation, the air spaces in the lungs get filled with pus/fluid making it hard for the oxygen to reach the blood.
What Causes Pneumonia in Kids?
Pneumonia can occur due to:
- Viruses like adenovirus, rhinovirus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus (Note that these are the same viruses that cause common cold).
- Bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae (most common) , Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus.
Your child catches infection from other people suffering with a cold or sore throat. He runs a high risk of getting pneumonia if he is:
- A premature baby
- Young (below 5 years)
- Has a long-lasting medical problem or lung disease
- Not immunised with routine vaccinations (See the vaccination schedule for India)
- Lives in a polluted environment (like cigarette smoke)
- Doesn’t get a proper treatment for severe cold
What are the Early Signs of Pneumonia in Kids?
Signs and symptoms of Pneumonia are like that of a common cold. Yet, there are signs that tell you it’s not just a cold. Note them down.
Besides the symptoms of common cold, your child shows:
1. Difficulty in breathing
- Breathing faster than normal – equal to or over 40-50 breaths per minute
- Grunting sound with breathing (known as stridor)
- In-drawing of chest when breathing which means the child uses extra effort to breathe
2. Chest/rib pain
3. Fever with cough and stuffy nose
4. Shaking chills
5. Poor appetite with Vomiting
6. Looks Pale, cries more than normal and gets tired easily
7. In severe cases, a bluish tint to the lips or nail beds
If pneumonia affects only the lower part of the lungs, the child may only show fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting, but no breathing problems.
Watch this video to understand the pneumonia symptoms!
Key point to remember: If your child had a cold for a few days, and then suddenly becomes more sick, he might have developed Pneumonia.
Other important points to remember about pneumonia in kids:
- Pneumonia symptoms usually start 2-3 days after a cold or a sore throat. So, if your child has a cold which doesn’t respond to the home remedies or worsens despite medicines, consult your doctor immediately.
- Kids with bacterial pneumonia become sick fairly quickly with high fever and unusual fast breathing.
- Kids with viral pneumonia develop the sickness gradually and do not show much severe symptoms.
What should I do if my Child has Pneumonia?
How is Pneumonia in Kids diagnosed?
Your doctor will usually diagnose Pneumonia in kids based on the symptoms, physical examination of the child’s appearance, breathing patterns, vital signs, and listening to the abnormal lung sounds with a stethoscope.
Sometimes he might advise for the blood tests and a Chest X-ray to confirm the daignosis.
Treatment of Pneumonia in Kids
The doctor will decide upon the line of treatment for pneumonia based on:
- Your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of pneumonia
- Cause of pneumonia
- Your child’s tolerance to specific medications
Antibiotics are usually given to treat bacterial pneumonia in kids. Your child might need a treatment in the hospital if he has:
- High fever
- Severe breathing problems
- Needs oxygen therapy
- Lung infection that has spread to the bloodstream
- So much vomiting he cannot take medicine by mouth
How long does a Child take to Recover from Pneumonia?
Your child recovers within 1-2 weeks of the treatment; however, he may still cough up phlegm till 4 weeks. This is a part of the cleansing process of his immune system.
How to Treat Pneumonia in Kids without Antibiotics?
HOMOEOPATHY offers the safest alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia in kids. Some useful remedies are:
1. Aconite: is the most valuable drug in the early stage of pneumonia. Severe chills followed by intense fever, hot dry, skin, quick pulse, increased rate of breathing with restlessness, palpitation, hard, painful, dry cough, and soreness and heat in chest.
2. Ammonium Carb: The child is extremely lethargic with rattling of large bubbles in the chest. Non-stop cough with phlegm aggravated at 3 to 4 A.M. followed by great exhaustion.
3. Arsenicum: Extreme tiredness, clammy sweat, and urgent thirst, drinking little and often. Shortness of breath on sight exertion with dry and dark tongue and lips.
4. Belladona: High fever where the skin is intensely hot to touch, face flushed, and eyes congested. Tickling dry cough aggravated at night with pain in chest, shortness of breath, and accelerated pulse.
P.S. – These remedies are only for your information. Consult a qualified homeopath in your area before giving them to your child.
How can I help my Child during Pneumonia?
During pneumonia, your child needs to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids while the body works to fight the infection. Follow the Do’s and Don’ts given in this infographic to take care of your pneumonia affected child:
Can a Child go to School with Pneumonia?
The viruses and bacteria that cause Pneumonia are found in the fluid of the mouth or nose of the infected child, and thus, he can spread the illness by coughing or sneezing.
Sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils, and touching the used tissues or handkerchiefs of an infected child can also can spread pneumonia.
So, don’t send your child to school till he recovers completely from Pneumonia.
How to Prevent Pneumonia in Babies?
Pneumonia can be prevented by following these guidelines:
- Vaccines can prevent some forms of Pneumonia. Get your child immunised against Haemophilus influenzae, pneumococcus and whooping cough at 2 months of age.
- Exclusively breastfeed your baby for 6 months and continue till you feel comfortable with it.
- Make sure the child’s environment is smoke-free. Place an air purifier in your house and ask any family member who smokes to quit smoking.
- Take timely treatment for any long-lasting medical conditions in your child.
- Wash yours and the child’s hands regularly and thoroughly. (See the 9 steps to wash your hands perfectly clean and germ-free)
- Feed your child a balanced meal.
Conclusion on Pneumonia in Kids
Pneumonia sounds scary, but you can easily prevent it by taking the above steps. And even if your child catches a pneumonia infection, you are now armoured with knowledge to tackle it like a pro.
So, follow the above rules and don’t give Pneumonia a chance in your kids’ life.
Have questions? Don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments below! Because it’s only when you ask, you gain knowledge.
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