Is your baby suffering from recurrent fever, cough or has difficulty in breathing? If yes, then do get the baby examined by a pediatrician immediately, as these might be the symptoms of pneumonia. This article elucidates a few more symptoms, causes and relative treatments for the same.
Among the many lower respiratory tract infections, pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in infants. Hence, it is extremely essential to precisely diagnose the condition and commence with the accurate treatment in infants, without wasting much time.
In pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs occurs due to a respiratory infection. This infection is caused by few viruses, bacteria, parasites and germs affecting the lungs. It is a common illness and strikes usually in winter and spring; often after a cold or another upper respiratory tract infection.
Lungs consist of small sacs called the alveoli which absorbs oxygen. It gets filled with air when a normal baby breathes. However, when an infant is suffering from pneumonia, the alveoli is filled with liquid and pus instead of air. This results in irregular breathing and reduced amount of oxygen intake.
» Babies develop this disease when they have respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection or if they are infected with Group B Streptococcus, which might be passed on to the baby from the mother during a vaginal birth.
» The reasons for bacterial pneumonia include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and Chlamydia pneumoniae.
» Viral pneumonia is caused due to parainfluenza virus, the flu virus and adenovirus.
» Anything that affects the baby’s bronchial tubes may also result in this disease. If the mother suffers from this disease, it can be transmitted to the infant while breastfeeding or when coughing and sneezing. Hence, it is very important to maintain proper hygiene.
The symptoms may vary and are identical to flu indications. Some of the common signs are:
» Relentless fever or cough
» Breathing difficulty
» Fever and severe chills
» Nasal congestion
» Loss of appetite
» Refusing feedings
» Blue lips or fingers
The diagnosis is done depending on the type of pneumonia the infant has. After noticing any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your baby, make sure you immediately inform the pediatrician. He might advise a full chest X-ray of the lungs, blood test, sputum test in extreme cases, physical examination or identify the condition by listening to the breathing sounds (rattles) using a stethoscope.
» This lower respiratory tract respiratory disease needs a lot of care and bed rest. The baby should be frequently fed with liquids to prevent dehydration.
» Antibiotics are prescribed in case of bacterial pneumonia but not for the viral one, which is treated with ample rest and fluids.
» If the baby is facing difficulty while breathing, the doctor gives a bronchodilator, a drug which relaxes and dilates the bronchial passageways and improves the passages of air into the lungs.
» In infants aged two months or younger or in severe cases, hospitalization is recommended.
» Apart from the baby, even the breastfeeding mother should follow a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins A, C and E. This helps the baby recover faster and build a stronger immune system.
» Key prevention measures include adequate nutrition and required vaccinations.
» For protection against bacterial pneumonia, the baby should be administered with pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumonia can be prevented with the vaccines that are given for the prevention of pertussis, measles and Haemophilus influenzae.
» Reducing indoor pollution, not exposing the infants to smoking by others and washing your hands before touching or going anywhere close to the infant are a few other preventive measures.
» Avoid bringing out your baby in public if he/she is suffering from even mild cold.
Pneumonia is contagious and can be transmitted through various mediums. Therefore, it is very important to stay healthy and clean. Also, keep regular followups with your baby’s pediatrician if you have any doubt related to this disease.