Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection that primarily inflames the small air sacs known as alveoli present in the lungs. The infection can be mild or severe and is caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. The disease is the single largest cause of mortality in children globally, with India accounting for 20% of all those deaths. Children with a weak immune system, lung problems or any ongoing chronic health condition are vulnerable to this infection. However, it is both preventable and treatable.
The symptoms of pneumonia are quite different for every child, depending on multiple factors, like the child’s overall health and the cause of the disease. Often, the disease occurs after a cold. The time between exposure and feeling sick of pneumonia is called incubation time. Usually, children affected by this infection experience the following symptoms:
The doctor begins the diagnosis by asking about the symptoms, watching the breathing and then listening to the lungs. If he finds the possibility of pneumonia, he may usually advise for the following tests:
Moreover, there are a few other tests, like chest CT scan, bronchoscopy, pleural fluid culture, sputum culture and pulse oximetry.
If the doctor finds pneumonia, he will prescribe medicines. The symptoms may improve within one or two days of starting the medicine. It is advised to take the full course of treatment.
The doctor also advises the following things to ease the symptoms:
Immunisation is the first layer of defence against pneumonia. Ensure your child gets the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Also, ascertain that your child’s immunisation (including yearly flu shots) is up-to-date.
Teach your child to follow good hygiene practices, like frequent handwashing and covering his/her mouth while sneezing or coughing. If anyone in your family is sick, take more precautions.
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung that majorly affects the small air sacs, leading to breathing problems. The infection is usually caused by bacteria and viruses and is seen more in children under 5 years of age. Cough with mucus, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing and fatigue are some of its symptoms. Reach out to a doctor if you see such signs and symptoms in your child.