Is pneumonia contagious? For how long is pneumonia contagious in children? Find answers to all these questions and more on pneumonia as you read on.
Pneumonia is a respiratory disease which is characterized by inflammation of the lungs. It can be either chronic or acute. Pneumonia is caused by a variety of pathogens like bacteria, virus, fungus or parasites; but viral pneumonia is the commonest of all. Terminally ill people contracting pneumonia can cause a life-threatening condition. Pneumonia can occur in people of any age group, but children and elderly people are at a high risk and pneumonia can even be a cause of death in them.
Pneumonia in Children
Pneumonia is considered as one of the leading causes of death in children. There are several causes that can put children at a high risk of pneumonia. Prematurely born babies and malnourished children can contract pneumonia easily. Similarly, children exposed to second hand smoke (passive smoking); constantly exposed to crowd, having genetic disorders or asthma are also very susceptible to the disease. On the other hand, walking pneumonia (a milder form of pneumonia) is also seen in children.
Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia appear more rapidly than viral pneumonia. It is rather peculiar that pneumonia symptoms in children change according to the age. In case of babies, vague symptoms like lack of appetite and irritability are observed. Similarly, crying more than usual, irritation and fussiness is also observed. In case of older children, the following pneumonia symptoms are observed:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Pale lips and fingernails
It should also be noted that sometimes high fever is the only symptom that is observed (mostly in case of bacterial pneumonia). Along with these symptoms, sore throat and headache are the symptoms of walking pneumonia in children.
Is Pneumonia Contagious in Children?
Although it can be said that pneumonia is not directly contagious from one person to the other; neither in case of children nor in adults. However, pneumonia causing pathogens like the bacteria and the virus are very contagious and can spread from one person to the other through the medium of bodily fluids. The contagion can take place as long as symptoms are seen in the infected person.
Therefore, it is advisable to keep children away from people who are suffering from pneumonia as it can spread from the infected person through cough or sneeze. As the immune system of children is weak, they are capable of getting infected easily by pneumonia causing pathogens. Similarly, sharing of utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other articles can spread the disease and hence should be strictly avoided.
Treatment of Pneumonia
If cough and fever persists for more than 2 days, you should consult the doctor. Physical examination, blood tests or chest X-ray help in diagnosis of the disease. Most of the time, pneumonia in children can be treated completely with the help of antibiotics. But, one should remember to strictly follow the complete dose of antibiotics and not discontinue taking medications immediately on feeling better. Babies and infants are usually hospitalized if pneumonia follows other chronic illnesses that affect the immune system. You should also remember that pneumonia can be prevented by good hygiene and vaccination.
Remember, if the symptoms of pneumonia are seen, the safest way is to take your child to a doctor immediately.