Pneumonia in children treatment is one of the most common searches made by parents these days. It is very understandable why this is so considering how frequently this condition is mentioned. Pneumonia is one of the very common health conditions of children.
Unlike several centuries ago, treating pneumonia in children is not so difficult. This is because there are several antibiotics as well as other treatments that have been developed. Despite this clear fact, children in several developing countries are still at risk of losing their lives to pneumonia.
The most common type of pneumonia that affects young children is walking pneumonia. It usually very mild and may go unnoticed for a while since it mostly doesn’t require hospitalization.
What is Pneumonia?
Before we talk about pneumonia in children treatment, it is imperative that we try to present you with a definition. In layman language, pneumonia is simply an infection of the lungs that causes a filling up of the lungs with fluids including pus. As a result of this, it becomes difficult for oxygen to get to the bloodstream.
Usually, symptoms of pneumonia vary from one age to another. But a few symptoms are very common across all ages such as cough, difficulty in breathing, and fever.
Symptoms of pneumonia
Many of the symptoms of pneumonia are very similar to those experienced in common cold. This is even more noticeable in children experiencing walking pneumonia. Somehow, kids are more resilient to pneumonia than adults and as a result, may not act sick at all.
The common symptoms of pneumonia in children under 5 include:
- Coughing bouts that extend beyond seven days.
- Reduced appetite in some cases
- A feeling of discomfort or general malaise
- Wheezing occurs mostly in severe conditions
- Low-grade fever
- Body aches and chills
- Rib and chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing which also occurs in severe cases.
Causes of pneumonia and the risk factors
What are the causes of pneumonia in children? This is one of the most common questions parents ask. Let’s lay the foundation here and now, every type of pneumonia is a result of infections to the lungs. In the case of walking pneumonia, the infection is by a bacterium known as Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Another major cause of pneumonia is respiratory viruses one of which is a respiratory syncytial virus. However, tests for these viruses are hardly ever conducted or even needed in the first place. According to one study, when M. pneumoniae causes the pneumonia infection, there are about three-year or four-year cycles.
In another study, it is clear that children who live in certain geographical areas are more susceptible to pneumonia. This is also the case with children that have parents who smoke or have caregivers that smoke. It is easier for such kids to contact pneumonia than those who don’t.
There are several other living conditions that may lead to pneumonia in children. One of such conditions is living in a poorly ventilated environment, another is living in overcrowded conditions. This is probably why pneumonia is more rampant during winter or cold periods since they spend more time indoors.
Children that are suffering from other health conditions are also at risk of pneumonia. This is because their immune systems have become weakened.
When should you take your child to the doctor?
There are certain signs that you should watch out for to know when you should visit the hospital. Some of these signs include:
- When your child is lacking energy for a long period of time.
- When the child has difficulty breathing properly.
- If your child exhibits a significant change in appetite or general behavior.
Once you notice any or all of these signs, you should take your child to see the doctor immediately.
We have already established the fact that pneumonia is a lung disease. Because of this, it is very easy for this infection to escalate and become dangerous really quickly. In fact, there is a higher risk of escalation in young children.
The usual method of diagnosis of pneumonia is physical examination. The doctor does this by listening to the lungs of your child using a stethoscope. Like we said earlier, when pneumonia occurs, the lungs get filled with fluid. This fluid makes the lungs sound differently during breathing.
Treatment of pneumonia in children
Pneumonia in children treatment is just about the most important aspect of this post. In most cases, especially when the condition is yet to escalate, all your child needs is rest. However, in some cases, doctors are likely to prescribe some kind of antibiotic. Such antibiotics like amoxicillin are administered orally.
In such cases, the child may need to take the drugs for about 14 days. During this period, it is advised that the child stays indoors resting. Pneumonia may take up to six weeks to completely clear out so you need to give your child quite an amount of downtime during this period. This leads your child down the road of recovery faster.
You should also ensure that the child gets sufficient hydration and lots of sleep during this period. Check out our list below which will help achieve that desired hydration for your child:
- Always ensure that your child has a filled water bottle close by at all times.
- Frequently replenish your child’s electrolytes with drinks. Examples of such drinks include Gatorade and Pedialyte.
- Offer sugar-free popsicles to your child.
It is also very important to take note of vaccinations. If your child is not up to date with their vaccinations, you should ensure that they get all they need to. From birth, there are several vaccinations that should be administered such as measles, pneumococcal, varicella, etc. These vaccines help to provide protection for your child against several diseases including pneumonia.
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is using cough suppressants for their kids. While these may suppress the cough, they cause the mucus to be retained in the lungs. As a result, the infection tends to last for longer periods than expected. To help clear your child’s lungs, it is best you place a humidifier in your kid’s room during the night.
When pneumonia is caused by mycoplasma or viruses, it is very likely to spread if care is not taken. This is why it is important for parents to take extra care to avoid their kids from spreading the infection to friends and classmates. Some of the precautions include:
- Practicing proper hygiene which includes frequent washing of hands.
- Encouraging children to cough into their elbows rather than into their hands.
- Changing your child’s linens and toothbrush.
It is very important that parents watch out for any new symptoms once they notice pneumonia. You should watch out more for breathing difficulties. According to a study, there is a relationship between pneumonia and asthma. It is very possible for pneumonia to make the symptoms of asthma worse.
How to help your child
The first thing to note with pneumonia is that there is a need for lots of fluids in the body. The fluids help the body to efficiently fight off the infection.
In cases where the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, your doctor is likely to administer antibiotics. When these drugs are administered, it is important as a parent that you ensure that your child follows the schedule. Your child needs to complete the dosage to recover faster and avoid infecting others.
The faster your child recovers, the better. Before administering any drugs for cough, you need to consult your doctor for instructions. This is because suppressants reduce the ability of the lungs to expel mucus. For this reason, it is medically inadvisable to use over the counter cold and cough medicines for children below 6-years-old.
You should also check your child’s temperature morning and evening every day during this period. Also, check the fingernails and lips of your child for a constant pink and rosy color. Once they begin to turn gray or bluish, you need to reach your doctor very quickly. This is an implication that your child’s lungs are not getting sufficient oxygen.
Can you prevent pneumonia?
Not all kinds of pneumonia can be prevented using vaccines. Like we told you earlier, kids get vaccines from a very tender age. One particular vaccine, Haemophilus influenza, which prevents pneumonia is administered at two months.
It is recommended that your child gets the flu vaccine between the ages of 6 months and 19 years. Of course, this depends on how healthy the child is. Children with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, lung, and heart diseases should be placed on these vaccines. This is because they are more at risk of pneumonia.
If you notice that a person in your home has respiratory issues, it is best to keep special cutlery and drinking for them. You should also encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently.
In this post, we have shown you all you need to know about pneumonia in children’s treatment. We believe this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, you can ask them in the comments section.