Your child’s lingering cough may mean pneumonia

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – More children may start to cough and sneeze more with the arrival of cold and flu season. However, if symptoms do not go away, it may mean a serious illness is present. According to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, pneumonia is the leading cause of hospitalization among children in the United States. Children 5-years-old and younger are at a greater risk.

What is pneumonia?

The illness is a lung infection that can be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungi or parasite. Most children receive the illness because of a virus that is spread like the common cold. A child can contract the illness when symptoms move into the lungs.

What are the symptoms? 

  • Cough
  • Fast, labored breathing (This may be the only symptom present)
  • Increased activity of breathing muscles below and between the ribs and above the collarbone
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Pain in the chest (Can occur when coughing or deep breathing)
  • Wheezing
  • Bluish tint to lips or nails (Can be caused by decreased oxygen in the bloodstream)

What is walking pneumonia? What is “double pneumonia?” 

It is a milder form of the illness. A child with this variety would not have to visit the hospital. Double pneumonia means the infection is in both lungs.

What is the treatment? When should I bring my child to the ER? 

Children should visit the emergency room immediately when they are struggling to breathe. This may require a child to stay in the hospital.

A doctor will listen to the child’s lungs for fluid and may order a chest x-ray. If the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed. However, antibiotics will not work if the infection is caused by a virus. A child may receive fever-reducing medication to use along with a cool-mist humidifier at home.

Children should receive plenty of rest and fluids.

How can you prevent pneumonia?

Children should receive all of their vaccinations, wash their hands, cover their face when coughing and sneezing, and stay home when sick.

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