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  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Pneumonia

PNEUMONIA

 

Pneumonia or chest infection is an inflammation or infection of one or both lungs caused by various micro-organisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. It is often a complication of an URTI, such as the common cold, or of an infectious disease, such as chicken pox (Collins, 2003; Nemours, 1995-2010).

 

Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to the age of your child and the cause of the pneumonia. Viral pneumonia symptoms generally appear more gradually and are often less severe than those produced by bacterial pneumonia. Common symptoms include:

·                Fever

·                Headache and sore throat are common symptoms of pneumonia caused by mycoplasma or walking pneumonia

·                Chills

·                Wheezing

·                Coughing, which produces green, yellow or blood-flecked phlegm in older children

·                Rapid or difficult breathing

·                Vomiting

·                Chest pain

·                Abdominal pain

·                Loss of appetite in older children and poor feeding in infants

·                Severe pneumonia may produce drowsiness and blueness of the lips, tongue or fingernails (Collins, 2003; Nemours, 1996-2010).

 

Risk factors

Children who are born prematurely, are asthmatic or have a genetic disorder like sickle cell disease, breathe in second-hand smoke, have a heart defect or weak immune system, or stay in a crowded place such as a day-care centre, are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia (PDRHealth, 2009).

 

Diagnosis

Pneumonia may be suspected if your doctor hears coarse breathing or crackling sounds when listening to the chest through a stethoscope. There may also be wheezing or breathing may be faint in certain areas of the chest.

 

·                Chest X-rays are often used to confirm this diagnosis.

·                Sputum cultures can be collected and examined under the microscope. This type of testing can often detect whether the pneumonia is caused by a bacterium or fungus and helps in the selection of an appropriate therapy.

·                Blood tests that measure your child’s white blood count (WBC) may be performed. This assists in ascertaining the severity of the pneumonia and whether it is caused by a bacterium or virus (MedicineNet, 1996-2010).

 

Treatment

·                Your child will need a lot of rest. He may go outside if it is not too damp or cold but should avoid vigorous exercise for approximately a week.

·                Ensure that he has frequent small amounts of fluids to avoid dehydration.

·                Sleeping slightly elevated with some cushions propped up behind his head may be more comfortable than lying completely flat.

·                Liquid paracetamol may be given for pain and fever.

·                A warm compress may be placed on your child’s chest, if he has chest pain.

·                Over the counter cough medications are not recommended for children with pneumonia.

·                Bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics and improvements are usually seen within 24-48 hours after starting treatment. Coughing may continue for days to weeks. It is essential that the entire course of antibiotics is completed.

·                Viral pneumonia does not respond to antibiotics and recovery is usually slower, taking 2-4 weeks. Antiviral medication is available and is used to prevent some types of pneumonia or to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

 

Most cases of pneumonia can be treated at home. However, if your child’s condition is severe, if he is having extreme difficulty breathing, is dehydrated, under the age of 1 year, is unable to take medication orally, becomes increasingly drowsy or hard to wake, or if his lips or fingernails have gone blue, indicating that he is not getting enough oxygen, he may need to be admitted to hospital. He will then be observed carefully and may require the following treatments:

·         Antibiotics administered intravenously for bacterial pneumonia.

·         Oxygen to assist breathing.

·                Fluids intravenously to treat dehydration (Collins, 2003; Nemours, 1995-2010;  RoyalChildrensHospital, 2006-2009).