Pneumonia In Toddlers - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Pneumonia In Toddlers

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Is your toddler having a tough time getting to sleep? Does she have a severe cough, fever, and rapid breathing? Well, if she is, then you need to get to a pediatrician immediately; she may have Pneumonia. Read this post to learn about pneumonia in toddlers.

What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a lung infection that germs, fungi, bacteria and even parasites can cause. Most commonly, pneumonia is associated with viruses like the adenoviruses, influenza virus (flu), rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza virus or human metapneumovirus.

Usually, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is what causes pneumonia in toddlers. While infants get infected due to group B streptococcus (GBS) which is congenital, bacterial or viral infections can lead to pneumonia in toddlers at any time. (1)

[ Read: TB (Tuberculosis) In Toddlers  ]

Types Of Pneumonia:

Pneumonia is of two main types: bacterial and viral.

  • Bacterial Pneumonia:

Toddlers who suffer from bacterial pneumonia have sudden symptoms of the infection such as coughing, high fever, and rapid breathing. Such toddlers aren’t usually hungry and often appear sick or lethargic. Toddlers or infants with bacteria-induced lung infections may also have trouble breathing. You need to check if your toddler has flaring nostrils or a sinking chest whenever she breathes. Other visible symptoms include a quickened pulse and purple or bluish nails or lips.

The infection aggravates other associated symptoms like vomiting, weakness or diarrhea. In some cases, toddlers may also experience a stiff neck or abdominal pain. Streptococcus pneumonia is one bacterium that usually causes pneumonia primarily in toddlers. There is a high possibility that other bacteria like Mycoplasma pneumonia or Staphylococcus aureus can also lead to bacterial pneumonia.

[ Read: Symptoms Of Croup In Toddlers ]

  • Viral Pneumonia:

Viral pneumonia exhibits milder symptoms than bacterial pneumonia. Symptoms usually include cold and cough; although the symptoms worsen gradually. The toddler may also suffer high fever of 101.5 F or more, along with persistent cough, rapid breathing, and wheezing. Other associated symptoms include diarrhea, weakness, and vomiting.

Experts say that viral pneumonia is less severe than bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonia doesn’t progress to bacterial pneumonia; it makes your toddler more vulnerable to the latter. The viruses that cause pneumonia include the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, and the flu virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pneumonia kills one million children younger than five years each year one child. Toddlers are at a much greater risk of developing this disease as they do not have a fully developed immune system.(2)

Though there are many general symptoms of pneumonia, it gets extremely difficult to identify the signs in a toddler and even more so in infants. The only symptoms include loss of appetite, thirst, and heavy breathing.

Hospitalized children and those who have been on antibiotics regularly are at a greater risk to acquire this disease, as are kids with asthma or other chronic illnesses. However, the only way to find out if a child is suffering from pneumonia is through medical tests or by seeing a doctor.

[ Read: Bronchitis In Toddlers ]

How To Treat A Toddler Suffering From Pneumonia?

While this is one of the most common questions asked, doctors can only decide once they inspect your toddler and understand the etiology of the infectious organism. Doctors formulate treatment plans after diagnosing whether the infection is viral or bacterial. Other important factors are the age and the clinical status of the child. (3)

Any antibiotic aid given to the child should target the disease-causing organism while considering the age of the patient. Therapy should focus on resolving the symptoms. When your toddler undergoes successful therapy, his grievances and symptoms reduce. If the therapy fails, you might have to rethink your approach.

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