How to Prevent Child from Pneumonia – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Created by Dr Himani Narula Khanna Updated on Jan 26, 2021
Let’s face it – ‘pneumonia’ sounds like a dreadful disease. Well, which disease is not dreadful you may ask, but pneumonia especially has been embedded in our psyche as a big watch out, thanks to our well-wishers. A grandma saying ‘thand mein shaam ko mat nahao, pneumonia ho jayega’ (don’t bathe on a winter evening, you will get pneumonia) or an aunt too anxious on even a balmy spring evening: ‘Don’t sleep with the fan on, you will get pneumonia!’ are all pieces of advice you might have heard. Needless to say, there are a lot of myths surrounding this disease. On World Pneumonia Day (12th November), let's understand pneumonia as a first step to beating it!
What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is basically an infection in one or both lungs and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Usually, pneumonia in children is caused by viruses; however, children with viral pneumonia may also subsequently develop bacterial pneumonia.
What Causes Pneumonia?
The most common cause of pneumonia in children is an infection in the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). The infection causes the fluid to collect in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. The main cause of bacterial pneumonia in children is the bacteria-induced Chlamydia pneumonia and Mycoplasma pneumonia that create an infection in the air sacs inside the lungs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is different from common cold and flu- Common cold is a viral infection accompanied by a sore throat; it is not life-threatening. Though it is difficult to gauge at the first go whether your child has a common cold, flu or pneumonia, it would help you if you know the symptoms of pneumonia. Here is a list of symptoms,
- Dry cough that may lead to greenish and yellowish mucus: Initially your child might have a dry cough but as the infection progresses a cough may have green or yellow mucus – and may at times have spots of blood as well
- Extreme Tiredness: If your normally active child is being lethargic and feels overtly tired then it is time to see the pediatrician.
- Chest-pain while Breathing: Is your child complaining of pain in the chest while breathing? If yes, then don’t ignore, as it could be the onset of pneumonia
- Headaches: Headaches in children are mostly unheard of. So if your child is complaining of one and has any one of the other listed symptoms then visit the pediatrician immediately
- High fever with chills: If your child has a high fever accompanied by frequent chills, you would have already consulted the doctor. However, still discuss the likelihood of pneumonia with your doctor and what can be done to completely rule it out
- Loss of appetite: If you feel that your child has started saying no to even her favorite dishes, and is showing signs of tiredness or is coughing, get a check-up done at the earliest
- Wheezing: Wheezing is a sound, which your child produces while breathing when her airways are clogged and unless there are no other above-mentioned symptoms, it can be because of the common cold. However, if you feel that there are other symptoms as well, then consult your pediatrician to rule out pneumonia
How Is Pneumonia Treated?
The doctor will determine the severity of illness and then decide the course of treatment. Your doctor may advise some blood investigations and a chest X-ray to determine the severity of the illness. Pneumonia can be treated easily with the help of antibiotics and medicines like paracetamol to reduce fever and pain – and taking adequate rest. If it is a severe pneumonia attack, it will require hospitalization and antibiotics will be administered intravenously.
Be Warned: If left untreated, this disease can get complicated. The infection may spread in the whole body leading to septicemia; there may be pus collection in the pleural space in long-standing and untreated pneumonia.
How Can I Prevent Pneumonia?
We all know prevention is better than cure. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your child stays protected/
- Vaccination: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) is the best way to prevent pneumonia. Your doctor may also advise the same if your child is below 5 years old
- Balanced Diet builds-up Immunity: Encourage your child to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet to boost her immunity. A child with strong immunity is naturally able to fight all the infections including pneumonia
- Use of Mask: In case someone in your family is affected by pneumonia, ensure that he or she is wearing a mask so that the infection doesn’t spread. The mask may also be worn by those who are taking care of the infected person to prevent the infection from spreading. Some simple preventive measures can help you keep illness at bay. However, at the first sign of any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult your child’s pediatrician. [Explore 8 Ways To Protect Baby From Pneumonia]
We hope you found this blog on pneumonia in children, useful. Share your feedback with us in the comments section!
| Nov 18, 2016
very useful article, even my son effected with pneumonia, even though we have given preventing vaccination and he was hospitalized for 5 day. so my humble request to all parents that, if your kiddo is not doing good pls consultant doctor don't do any home remedies.