Each year, on 12 November, we celebrate World Pneumonia Day to raise awareness about pneumonia, the world’s leading infectious killer of young children. Worldwide, pneumonia takes the lives of more young children than any other disease – more than 100 every hour of every day.
Most parents take the early symptoms of pneumonia lightly. Still, if your children are coughing or having any breathing problems, you are highly suggested to bring them to the hospital for check-up, as it might be the early signs of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Pneumonia causes inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe. The major types of pneumonia are classified by the cause of the infection, where the infection was transmitted, and how the infection was acquired. One of the most common types of pneumonia is walking pneumonia. It is a very mild form of pneumonia that can be seen in both children and adults. Walking pneumonia in children generally does not lead to hospitalization. Symptoms of walking pneumonia are usually less severe than symptoms of other types of pneumonia.
Generally, a child who suffers pneumonia will show some early signs, such as, nose and throat infections, fever and chills, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain, which somewhat the same with cold symptoms. In two or three days, these infections will spread to the lungs. Considering the low immune of young children, these infections can get worse and obstruct the airway.
Most kinds of pneumonia are contagious. Both viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread to others through inhalation of airborne droplets from a sneeze or cough. But while your child can become infected with fungal pneumonia from the environment, it doesn’t spread from person to person.
Pneumonia can usually be diagnosed with a physical exam. During the exam, your child’s doctor will listen to their lungs with a stethoscope. With cases of pneumonia, areas of the lungs are infected and filled with fluid. The fluid causes the lungs to sound different from healthy lungs when your child breathes. Your doctor may also hear crackling in the lungs. They may also order a chest X-ray to help diagnose pneumonia.
There are several ways to prevent pneumonia in children:
- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV). PCV is a pneumococcus and conjugate vaccines that are used to protect children and adults from diseases caused by pneumococcus bacterial. Flu vaccine also helps in protecting children from pneumonia. If your child isn’t up to date on vaccinations, it is also a good idea to make sure they are fully vaccinated. While there is no pneumonia vaccine for children, pneumonia may occur after other preventable illnesses that weaken the immune system. Vaccines also help prevent other infections occurring at the same time as pneumonia.
- Breastfeed your newborns for at least six months to strengthen the immune system.
- Having enough rest and lots of hydration with water are key. You can keep a water bottle near your child to encourage hydration throughout the day and replenish electrolytes with drinks such as Pedialyte or Gatorade.
Don’t let pneumonia in children grows into more serious problem. Protect your children by providing best hygiene, high-nutritional foods, and make sure they are fully vaccinated.