How to Treat Pneumonia in Toddlers?

(March 24, 2010)

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs that is caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Various types of pneumonia affect children at different ages. The most common reason is viruses. These include influenza virus –flu, respiratory syncytial virus –RSV, rhinovirus, adenoviruses and parainfluenza virus – which cause croup.

Symptoms of pneumonia in toddlers depend on the child’s age as well as the root cause and often include:

•    Chills
•    Fever
•    Cough
•    Wheezing or grunting sounds while breathing
•    Chest pain
•    Vomiting
•    Unusually rapid breathing
•    Labored breathing
•    Fingernails and/or lips turning blue or grayish - this only occurs in very serious cases.

Sometimes the only symptom may be rapid breathing or a persistent high fever for more than 4 days. Symptoms are more severe when pneumonia has been caused by a bacterial infection as compared to pneumonia caused by viruses. Remember that the viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia are contagious and can be spread when the infected child sneezes or coughs or by sharing the same glasses, utensils that an infected child has used. Parasitic pneumonia can lead to more than one type of pneumonia as the initial infection increases the risks of a secondary infection. In most cases, these parasites enter an individual’s body through the food or water they consume. These parasites then get into the bloodstream and eventually travel to the lungs and disrupt oxygen transportation.    

Pneumonia is usually diagnosed after a thorough examination. Chest x-rays and blood tests can also help to confirm the diagnosis. The physician may also require culture tests of the mucus for a definite diagnosis.  

Pneumonia is generally treated with antibiotics. The doctor would prescribe a specific type of antibiotics based on the specific cause of the pneumonia. Pneumonia that is caused by bacteria and results in high fever and/or severe respiratory distress would need hospitalization. This may also be required if the toddler needs supplemental oxygen or is vomiting so profusely that oral medications are not a viable option. Hospitalization would also be necessary if the child has a chronic illness that has lowered their immunity levels or if he/she experiences repeated bouts of pneumonia. If the child is to be treated at home, ensure that you follow the complete course of medication prescribed by the doctor. This will help the child recover faster and also decrease the risk of infection to other family members. Take the child’s temperature at least once every morning and evening. Contact your pediatrician if it goes above 102º F (38.9º C).  Keep the child comfortable at all times. Keep a close watch on the child as viral pneumonias can develop into bacterial pneumonia since the virus increases the child’s susceptibility to secondary infections.

Vaccines are highly effective in preventing some of the more serious types of pneumonia.

Submitted by N on March 24, 2010 at 03:41

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