Every 20 seconds, pneumonia takes away a child’s life, reveals the World Health Organization (WHO). Symptoms of pneumonia manifest differently in children. They may not have a violent cough, high fever, or significant signs of infections, which makes it hard to recognize the disease early. However, there are clues you can use to tell if your child is getting a life-threatening disease or just a cold.
Mild pneumonia in children
If the disease is caused by a few strain of bacteria, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pneumoniae, the child will have mild symptoms. This is also known as walking pneumonia and is common among school-age kids. Walking pneumonia doesn’t make the child feel very sick, but it may result in dry cough, mild fever, headache, and fatigue.
Moderate pneumonia in children
Most cases of pneumonia in preschoolers are caused by viruses. Common symptoms include sore throat, cough, mild fever, stuffy nose, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and fatigue.
Severe pneumonia in children
Pneumonia in school-age kids and teens is often caused by bacteria with more severe symptoms, such as high fever, perspiration, chills, skin flushing, blueness of the lips or fingernail beds, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Pneumonia in newborns and infants
Newborns and infants with pneumonia may not have clear symptoms. It’s also hard to determine if a small child has pneumonia since he or she may not describe their condition. A baby with pneumonia may show some symptoms such as pale skin, weakness and lethargy, unusual crying, poor feeding, irritation, restlessness, and vomiting.
When to seek medical help
You should call your doctor immediately if you notice the signs mentioned above in your children. However, seek urgent medical attention if he or she has:
- Trouble breathing or fast breathing
- Skin discoloration (bluish or gray color)
- High fever (38oC is considered as a high fever for babies younger than 6 months)
Treatment for pneumonia in children
Your doctor will check your child’s appearance, respiratory patterns, vital signs, and lung sounds. Your child may need a chest X-ray, blood tests, and possibly bacterial cultures of coughing mucus.
Most cases of pneumonia can be treated with oral antibiotics and home rest. Don’t give your child cough suppressants because they stop the lungs from clearing mucus. Always check with your doctor first.
Sometimes, family members need treatment to prevent transmission. Hospitalization is required if the child:
- Get pneumonia from whooping cough
- Has high fever and breathing problems
- Needs oxygen therapy
- Has a spreading lung infection
- Has an autoimmune disease
- Has severe vomiting
- Has recurrent pneumonia
Children with severe pneumonia may need to be put in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: June 30, 2017 | Last Modified: June 30, 2017
Pneumonia. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/pneumonia.html#kha_31. Accessed June 30, 2017.
Pneumonia in Children. http://www.everydayhealth.com/pneumonia/guide/children/. Accessed June 30, 2017.