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Pneumonia in Children

​​​It starts with a cold, cough or touch of the flu, and then you notice your child is feeling worse or has spiked a fever. Symptoms like this might signal the start of pneumonia.

Treating pneumonia at its early stages is key to a quick and full recovery so don't hesitate to give your Boys Town Pediatrician a call if your child exhibits these symptoms:

  • Cough with mucus (with a cold, mucus isn't normally present)
  • High-grade fever (in children, that's generally anything over 100' F)
  • Shaking chills, sweating
  • Trouble breathing, shortness of breath and/or rapid shallow breathing, wheezing
  • Painful cough and/or chest pain
  • Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Fatigue

Preventing Pneumonia

As with any illness, 100% prevention of pneumonia is often impossible, as it can spread quickly and unexpectedly. However, proper hygiene, rest and healthy eating can help your child avoid pneumonia.

  • Make sure your child washes their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and use hand sanitizer when needed or soap is unavailable.
  • Children need lots of sleep, a balanced diet filled with healthy foods and help managing their stress.
  • If there's an outbreak of the flu, colds or other communicable illnesses at school or daycare, be sure you're taking proper precautions such as avoiding certain events, wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

Types of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection in which fluid builds up in the lungs. It can be caused by either bacteria or a virus. Only a doctor can tell the difference between the two.

  • Viral pneumonia: Most children who get pneumonia get it from a virus. There are a variety of viruses that can cause pneumonia in children, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), influenza, adenovirus and others.  Kids with viral pneumonia take longer to show signs of illness.
  • Bacterial pneumonia: The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is streptococcus, though there are others.  A child with bacterial pneumonia gets sicker faster, experiencing a high fever and a cough.

Diagnosing Pneumonia

Your doctor will do a thorough exam of your child, looking at their vital signs, breathing patterns, listening to their lungs and even checking their appearance.  The doctor may request a chest X-ray as well as blood tests and pulse oximetry, to determine how much oxygen is getting to your child's blood.

Treating Pneumonia

In most cases, pneumonia can be treated at home, following your doctor's orders. Rest will be number one on the recommended treatment list, which can be hard for a child but is necessary to heal. Make sure your child gets their fluids by offering them small amounts to drink regularly.

For bacterial pneumonia, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic. If it's viral, then you'll want to make your child as comfortable as possible, as antibiotics won't work for a virus.

Your doctor will recommend pain relievers if they are needed. Cough and cold medicines don't help with pneumonia.

Children that require hospitalization usually have a high fever or breathing problems. ​

Bacterial pneumonia is normally cured in one to two weeks. Viral pneumonia takes about four to six weeks to be completely cured.

Illness;Cold and Flu Pediatrics