As we enter into December and the flu season is in full bloom, families should be aware of a common complication of influenza infection, pneumonia. The following are common questions families ask about pneumonia.
- What is pneumonia? Pneumonia is an infection of the lung. The infection can be caused by several germs, including viruses, bacteria, fungal, and atypical bacteria. Kids that have a healthy immune system typically have viral or bacterial lung infections.
- What are the symptoms of pneumonia? Children with pneumonia usually have a fever (temperature 101 or greater), cough, difficulty breathing and rapid breathing at rest. Children may also complain of a tummy ache, decreased appetite, and chest pain. Children with these symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor.
- How is pneumonia diagnosed? Pneumonia is a clinical diagnosis, meaning your physician will determine whether your child has pneumonia from history, vital signs and physical diagnosis. A chest x-ray is not necessary to diagnose pneumonia.
- How is pneumonia treated? The treatment plan varies based on the cause of pneumonia. If the pneumonia is caused by a virus, the treatment is fluids, rest, fever management and close observation. If the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, the treatment is fluids, rest, fever management, an antibiotic and close observation. Most pneumonia infections can be treated at home. If the patient is having difficulty breathing or low oxygen in the body, they should receive treatment in a hospital.
- How long does it take to recover from pneumonia? Parents should expect their child not to feel well for 2 weeks. Recovery from pneumonia is a slow process of the lungs healing from the infection. Children should rest and give the body ample time to heal. Children may return to school and activities when they do not have a fever for 24 hours without using acetaminophen or ibuprofen, no cough, good activity, good appetite and sleeping well at night.