Signs of Pneumonia in Children

Signs of Pneumonia in Children

Could your child be coming down with Pneumonia? Find out what the tell tale signs are to diagnose it correctly.

When your child comes down with a case of sniffles you make them a nice bowl of chicken soup but when they come down with something more severe like pneumonia your heart really goes out to them. This type of infection can be scary for parents because the signs of pneumonia in children often are hard to spot and also mimic other less significant illnesses such as the run of the mill flu or a lingering chest cold that just won’t budge.

While most of the time a bad chest cold is just that . . . a cold, if your child was recovering from an illness but then suddenly took a turn for the worst then this is what pediatrician’s say is the number one telltale sign for parents to watch out for. This is indicative that infection has set in and instead of getting better, the child suddenly becomes worse. In most cases this will accompany a high fever and a feeling of malaise.

Before we look into more signs of pneumonia in children let’s talk about what pneumonia is. Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs that can be caused by microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. If your child has viral pneumonia your child may require only breathing treatments to assure the airways stay nice and open. If your child has a bacterial infection he or she will require antibiotics. An infection caused by a fungus will require anti-fungal medications.

Now let’s look at the classic signs of pneumonia in children. In babies and toddlers the signs are less exaggerated, however, children this young will still appear very ill. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms you should consult your doctor and schedule a sick child visit immediately:

  • Sore throat – Often not severe especially not at first.
  • Coughing that may be painful – Your child may complain that their cough makes their chest hurt. This is caused from the narrowed or inflamed bronchial branches inside the lungs expanding.
  • Sneezing – Much like an average cold, sneezing usually presents at the start of pneumonia mimicking a simple hay fever.
  • High fever – Your child’s fever may be as high as 104. Because fever makes children feel worse you may notice that when his fever is up he looks much worse than after a dose of Tylenol.
  • Sputum upon coughing – Your child’s cough may begin to produce mucus.
  • Chest pain – Chest pain is caused by infection in the lungs or soreness from persistent coughing. This can often be mistaken for heart pain but true heart pain is extremely rare in children.
  • Shaking and chills – Shaking with chills is one of the more common signs of pneumonia in children. Chills and shaking do serve a purpose as they try to raise the body’s temperature and trick it into thinking it is cold. This produces infection fighting fevers.

First your doctor will have you describe the symptoms of your child’s illness. He or she will then listen to the child’s lungs. If your child’s doctor suspects pneumonia they will then do a chest x -ray to look for signs of infection. If your child has had pneumonia before don’t be scared by white spots on your child’s lung x-ray. Scar tissue forms where pneumonia was once housed and won’t fade for many years.

As your child tries to recover give them warm, loving support. Assure them that everything will be OK. Rent their favorite movie and get a blanket for snuggles and flicks. While medicine plays the biggest part in getting well, you should never discount the power of chicken soup and a mother’s love.

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