What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of lungs that can be serious, especially in small children. In children less than 5 years old, pneumonia is usually caused by viruses whereas in older children it is usually caused by bacteria.
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble breathing or chest pain
- Breathing faster than usual – this is especially true in smaller children and infants
How is Pneumonia Diagnosed?
- Usually pneumonia can be diagnosed by physical exam alone. The combination of fever, cough, a change in breathing pattern, and lung exam findings is usually enough to make the diagnosis.
- Chest X-ray is usually not necessary. Sometimes your provider might get a chest x-ray if they’re worried about an especially bad infection or if your child needs to be hospitalized.
How is Pneumonia Treated?
- Antibiotics are given only for bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonias are not treated with antibiotics. When administered, antibiotics can be given orally if the child does not appear too sick. If the child looks very sick or can’t take oral antibiotics, they should be hospitalized for treatment.
- Fluids: make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.
- Pain and fever control: Use ibuprofen and Tylenol as needed to manage pain and discomfort.
Check in With K If…
- You have general questions about your child’s condition
- You want general followup for your child
- You have questions about supportive care
- Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming
See a Doctor in Person If…
All suspected pneumonias must be seen in person to confirm diagnosis. Go to the emergency room if:
- Your child is having difficulty breathing
- Your child looks very sick
- You’re worried your child might be dehydrated
- Your child has bad chest pain
- Your child’s face shows a bluish discoloration