KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Cold and flu season is here and it’s normal to see kids coughing and sneezing, but lingering symptoms could turn into a more serious illness requiring a stay in the hospital.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of hospitalization among children in the U.S. kids age 5 and younger are at greatest risk.
Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by a variety of germs, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Most are caused by viruses like the common cold. If symptoms linger too long, it can move into the lungs where pneumonia develops.
Dr. Katy Stordahl, ER physician at Children’s Hospital, says signs and symptoms include cough; fast, labored breathing; increased activity of breathing muscles; flaring of the nostrils, chest pain; wheezing; and a bluish tint to lips or nails.
Walking pneumonia is a milder case which doesn’t require a hospital visit. Double pneumonia is when both lungs are infected.
If a child is struggling to breathe, Dr. Stordahl says to bring him or her to the ER immediately for medical treatment. A pediatrician will listen to the lungs for fluid and may order an X-ray. If the infection is bacterial, antibiotics will be prescribed. For a virus, fever-reducing medicines and a cool-mist humidifier may be recommended. No matter the type of pneumonia, rest and plenty of fluids are important.
Stordahl says to make sure your children receive all their vaccinations, wash their hands thoroughly and often, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when they are sick.