Pneumonia in children: What are the common symptoms & diagnosys

Pneumonia in children: What are the common symptoms?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. The small air sacs in lungs (also called as alveoli) are normally filled with air. In children with pneumonia the air sacs fill up with fluid or pus.

What are the common causes of Pneumonia in children?
Most common causes of pneumonia in children are viruses like respiratory syncytial virus, rhinoviruses, metapneumovirus, influenza & parainfluenza viruses etc. Bacteria like streptococcus pneumonia, hemophilus influenzae and staphylococus also cause pneumonia commonly. In school age children another common cause of pneumonia is mycoplasma pneumoniae.

Common symptoms of Pneumonia in children?
The symptoms of pneumonia in children include fever, cough, loss of appetite and fast breathing. Some children can also have shaking chills, weakness, nausea and vomiting.

When do children with Pneumonia need to be admitted to a hospital?
Some children with pneumonia become sick and require to be admitted to a hospital for observation, investigation and treatment. The symptoms which suggests a severe pneumonia requiring hospital admission are trouble breathing or is breathing much faster than usual, chest indrawings while breathing in, presence of loud whistling sounds, inability to accept orally or poor feeding, dehydration, very young children less than 3-6 months of age and bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips. Children getting sick require to be admitted to the hospital ward but more serious cases might be treated in the children’s intensive care unit (ICU).

Pneumonia in children

How do we diagnose Pneumonia in children?
Pneumonia is usually diagnosed by the child’s clinical symptoms, observing the child's breathing and listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. In addition some tests like blood counts and a chest xray might be required.

How Is Pneumonia Treated?
Treatment of pneumonia requires antibiotics and other supportive treatment like maintaining hydration, paracetamol for fever and adequate rest. Usually, this can be done at home in most children although in few children who get sick hospital admission might be required. In children treated at home antibiotics are given orally as tablets or syrups and intravenously (given into a vein) in children admitted to a hospital. The choice of antibiotic depends on the type of bacteria thought to have caused the pneumonia. The usual antibiotics are penicillin groups like amoxicillin or co-amoxyclav. Since antibiotics work against bacteria only, they are not helpful in pneumonia caused by viral infections. Children requiring hospital admission for pneumonia might need intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and oxygen.

If your child is having any symptoms suggestive of pneumonia in children do get in touch with a pediatric pulmonologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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