Inflammation of the lungs due to a bacterial, viral, or chemical irritant is known as pneumonia. This is a serious infection wherein the air sacs are filled with pus and other liquids. This medical condition in children under five is very common and usually starts with the onset of cold, cough, or sore throat. Most of the symptoms of this disease in children under 5 are similar to cold symptoms.
This disease is usually observed due to two causes, bacterial or viral infection. Bacterial pneumonia is caused by different types of bacteria. The most common bacteria that causes it is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Other bacteria include Group B Streptococcus that is very common in newborn babies, Staphylococcus aureus and Group A Streptococcus that commonly affects children over the age of 5. Bacterial pneumonia has a very quick onset as compared to viral pneumonia.
The bacterial pneumonia symptoms in children under 5 are as follows:
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
Viral pneumonia is caused by different viruses that include RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) that commonly infects children under 5. Parainfluenza virus, rhinovirus, influenza virus, and adenovirus are some other viruses that cause pneumonia. The viral pneumonia symptoms in children under 5 are just as similar to the symptoms in bacteria. The only difference being slow respiratory infection onset. Also, the wheezing and cough in children may be worse in this case. Viral pneumonia makes a child more at risk of developing bacterial pneumonia. Other causes of this medical condition include fungal infections, inhalation of food, liquid, gases, or dust particles.
A child with respiratory tract infections like cold, cough, and runny nose may suddenly get worse and develop this disease. The symptoms include:
- Worsened cough
- Labored breathing
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Nasal flaring
- Loss of appetite or poor feeding in case of infants
- Bluish or gray lips and finger nails in extreme cases
Some children with pneumonia may only develop a cough, high temperature, and rapid breathing as symptoms. In case of these signs and symptoms affecting the lower part of lungs, their breathing will not be affected, but they will show symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
The treatment would depend on the child's age, medical history, and overall health. The extent of inflammation of the lungs and the cause for this disease is also taken into consideration. The treatment for bacterial pneumonia in children is generally antibiotics. These antibiotics also help in recovery from Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Viral pneumonia has no specific treatment and it generally resolves on its own. The child may be kept on a specific diet and asked to increase his fluid intake.
Fever may be treated by the administration of acetaminophen. In severe cases, the child may be given antibiotics intravenously (IV) or orally. Oxygen therapy, suctioning of the nose and mouth may be required to remove secretions and intravenous fluids in case the child cannot drink properly.
One can try preventing this medical condition by giving the child a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Healthy diet will help build a strong immune system in the child and frequent hand washing will help prevent transfer of harmful germs. This medical condition may not be directly transmitted from person to person, but the causative agents like bacteria and virus can spread through body fluids. Most of the time, a good rest at home along with a regular intake of the medication doses will help in curing the child.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.