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Oct.19.2020
 Community-Acquired Pneumonia, Child

Community-Acquired Pneumonia, Child

Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes inflammation and the buildup of mucus and fluids in the lungs. Community-acquired pneumonia is pneumonia that develops in people who are not, and have not recently been, in a hospital or other health care facility.
Usually, pneumonia in children develops as a result of an illness that is caused by a virus, such as the common cold and the flu (influenza). It can also be caused by bacteria or fungi. While the common cold and influenza can spread from person to person (are contagious), pneumonia itself is not considered contagious.

What are the causes?

This condition may be caused by:
  • Viruses.
  • Bacteria.
  • Fungi, such as molds or mushrooms.

What increases the risk?

Your child is more likely to develop pneumonia during the fall, winter, and spring. This is when children spend more time indoors and in close contact with others.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms depend on your child's age and the cause of the condition. If caused by a virus, the pneumonia may be mild, and symptoms may develop slowly. If the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, symptoms may develop quickly and may cause higher fever.
Common symptoms include:
  • A dry cough or a wet (productive) cough. Your child may continue to cough for several weeks after starting to feel better. Coughing helps to clear the infection.
  • A fever or chills.
  • Shortness of breath, fast or shallow breathing, noisy breathing (wheezing), or nostrils opening wide during breathing (nasal flaring).
  • Pain in the chest or abdomen.
  • Tiredness (fatigue).
  • No desire to eat.
  • Lack of interest in play.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition may be diagnosed based on your child's medical history or a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, including:
  • Chest X-rays.
  • Blood tests.
  • Urine tests.
  • Tests of mucus from the lungs (sputum).
  • Tests of fluid around the lungs (pleural fluid).

How is this treated?

Treatment for this condition depends on the cause and how severe the symptoms are.
  • Your child may be treated at home with rest or with antibiotic medicines to kill the bacteria or antiviral medicines to kill the virus. He or she may also receive oxygen therapy.
  • Your child may be treated in the hospital if he or she is 6 months old or younger or has a severe infection. If your child's infection is severe, he or she may need:
    • Mechanical ventilation.This procedure uses a machine to help with breathing if your child cannot breathe well or maintain a safe level of blood oxygen.
    • Thoracentesis. This procedure removes any buildup of pleural fluid to help with breathing.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

  • Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child's health care provider.
  • If your child was prescribed an antibiotic medicine, give it as told by your child's health care provider. Do not stop giving the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.
  • Do not give your child aspirin because of the association with Reye's syndrome.
  • If your child is 4–6 years old, use cough medicine only as directed by the health care provider.
    • Coughing helps to clear mucus and germs from the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs (respiratory system). Give your child cough medicine only to help your child rest or sleep.
    • Do not give cough medicine to your child who is younger than 4 years of age.

Activity

  • Be sure your child gets enough rest. He or she may be tired and may not want to do as many activities as usual.
  • Have your child return to his or her normal activities as told by his or her health care provider. Ask the health care provider what activities are safe for your child.

General instructions

  • Have your child sleep in a partly upright position. Place a few pillows under your child's head or have your child sleep in a reclining chair. Lying down makes coughing worse.
  • Put a cool steam vaporizer or humidifier in your child's room. These machines add moisture to the air, which can loosen mucus.
  • Have your child drink enough fluid to keep his or her urine pale yellow. This may help loosen mucus.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after having contact with your child. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. Ask other people in your household to wash their hands often, too.
  • Keep your child away from secondhand smoke. Smoke can make your child's cough and other symptoms worse.
  • Have your child eat a healthy diet. This includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child's health care provider. This is important.

How is this prevented?

  • Keep your child's vaccines up to date.
  • Make sure that you and everyone who cares for your child have received vaccines for influenza and whooping cough (pertussis).

Contact a health care provider if your child:

  • Develops new symptoms or has symptoms that do not get better after 3 days of treatment, or as told by the health care provider.
  • Has symptoms that get worse over time instead of better.

Get help right away if your child:

  • Has signs of breathing problems, such as:
    • Fast breathing.
    • Being short of breath and unable to talk normally, or making grunting noises when breathing out.
    • Pain with breathing.
    • Wheezing.
    • Ribs that seem to stick out when he or she breathes.
    • Nasal flaring.
  • Is younger than 3 months and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
  • Is 3 months to 3 years old and has a temperature of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher.
  • Coughs up blood.
  • Vomits often.
  • Has any symptoms that suddenly get worse.
  • Develops a bluish color to the lips, face, or nails.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).

Summary

  • Community-acquired pneumonia is pneumonia that develops in people who are not, and have not recently been, in a hospital or other health care facility. It may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
  • Treatment for this condition depends on the cause and how severe the symptoms are.
  • Contact a health care provider if your child develops new symptoms or has symptoms that do not get better after 3 days of treatment, or as told by the health care provider.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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