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Pneumonia (Child)

Pneumonia (Child) - What it is

Pneumonia is an infection of the lung. The infection is usually caused by viruses, but can also be caused by bacteria or other germs.

Pneumonia (Child) - Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
  • Fever with or without chills
  • Cough which may be initially dry, but may progress to a phlegmy cough
  • Difficulty in breathing or rapid breathing
  • Chest pain when coughing or breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting (usually after coughing), or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Newborns or infants may have lower than normal body temperature, appear restless, without energy, or have difficulty feeding.

Pneumonia (Child) - How to prevent?

Get vaccinated.

  1. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can prevent serious infections including pneumonia, by some strains of pneumococcus. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule. Have your child vaccinated if he/she has not completed three doses of the vaccine.

  2. Influenza vaccine can prevent influenza pneumonia and other complications of influenza. Children above six months old can be given the vaccine. Pregnant women should be vaccinated to protect themselves and their unborn child up till the child is six months old. Children with certain high risk medical conditions may also benefit from yearly influenza vaccination.

  3. Maintain good hygiene. Keep your child’s and your hands clean through regular hand-washing, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, to protect your child against respiratory infections that may lead to pneumonia.

  4. Avoid smoke exposure. Smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke damages your child’s natural ability to fight against respiratory infections.

  5. Improve your immune system. Ensure your child has a healthy diet, gets enough sleep and exercises regularly.

Pneumonia (Child) - Causes and Risk Factors

Pneumonia is usually caused by infection with viruses, bacteria or other germs. Common organisms that cause pneumonia include Respiratory Syncytical Virus, Influenza virus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma sp. Most children who develop pneumonia are previously healthy with normal immune system. Pre-existing illnesses (e.g. chronic lung disease, weak immune system etc.) increase a child’s risk of contracting pneumonia.

Pneumonia (Child) - Diagnosis

Pneumonia is diagnosed by the doctor with thorough history taking and physical examination. Sometimes, there may be a need to perform a chest x-ray and/or blood tests.

Pneumonia (Child) - Treatments

Children with pneumonia often need supportive treatment to control the fever and maintain good hydration. Antibiotics are only prescribed for children who have bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia with suspected concurrent bacterial infection. With the start of a course of appropriate antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia, the fever usually starts improving within two to three days. The cough may take longer, up to two weeks, to resolve. However, in severe cases of pneumonia, your child will need to be admitted to the hospital for closer observation, antibiotics, oxygen therapy etc. Rarely, procedures such as chest tube insertion or surgery may be required in those with severe pneumonia who develop complications such as effusion (collection of fluid in the chest) or empyema (collection of pus in the chest).

Medications to suppress the cough (cough suppressants) or loosen the phlegm (mucolytics) are not routinely indicated for children with pneumonia. They may have little beneficial effect (if any) and may do more harm than good in young children (under 2 years).

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Pneumonia (Child) - Post-surgery care

Pneumonia (Child) - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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