Conditions treated

Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia is a diagnosis which means that there is a lung infection due to inflammation of the air sacs. It could be caused by various infective organisms like - bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. It usually starts with cold and cough upper respiratory infection, which becomes more severe and results in breathing difficulty or noisy breathing. In some children especially neonates (below 1 year of age) with a compromised immune system, it could become very serious.

Causes of Pneumonia in Children
  • Viruses: Viruses which cause flu and common cold are the most common causes of pneumonia especially in children under the age of 5 years. Some of the viruses are adenovirus, influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, and human metapneumovirus,
  • Bacteria: Bacterial pneumonia could occur as a direct infection or as a secondary infection. The most common bacterial infection is streptococcus pneumonia.
  • Fungi: Fungal pneumonia results in those children with immunocompromised status or in chronic illnesses like asthma and cystic fibrosis.
Pneumonia in child

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children

Symptoms of pneumonia in children can vary greatly. They depend on the child’s age, health, underlying cause and location of pneumonia in the lung. For example, in bacterial pneumonia is symptoms are severe and progress rapidly. In viral infections, the onset and progress is more gradual.

  • Fever with or without chills
  • Cough which may sound wet type
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulty
Risk factors
  • Children under 2 years of age
  • Chronic disease like cystic fibrosis
  • Weakened immune system: post - organ transplant, HIV, have received chemotherapy or long-term steroids
  • Hospitalization for any cause
Complications of Pneumonia in Children
  • Low oxygen concentrations in blood
  • Fluid accumulation around the lungs (pleural effusion):As pneumonia is due to infection and inflammation of the lung tissue, it may cause fluid to accumulate in the pleural space (Refer to the write up on pleural effusion). This fluid can become potentially infected and may lead to worsening of the general condition and may require drainage via chest tube or by surgical intervention.
  • Bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia): Bacteria from the infected lungs can enter the bloodstream and spread via blood stream to other organs
  • Lung abscess: In case of very virulent organisms, pus formation can take place due to breakdown of the lung tissue resulting in a condition called as lung abscess.
Pneumonia in infant

Treatment is as per the underlying condition. Antibiotics, anti fungals, anti-viral drugs may be needed. Supportive care in the form of IV fluids, anti pyretics, analgesics may be required in addition.

Do consult your doctor or your pediatric pulmonologist if your child has any of the above suspicious symptoms, so that correct treatment can be started at the earliest.

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