Pneumonia is a viral infection that affects the alveoli present in the lungs and causes difficulty in breathing. It is a condition where the air sacs are filled up with mucus and other infected fluids that cause difficulty for the oxygen to reach the bloodstream.
It is caused by different organisms and can be broadly divided into bacterial and viral pneumonia. Pneumonia can affect one or both the lungs and if the infant has a weak immune system, can be life threatening.
Causes Of Pneumonia
It is common to develop pneumonia during the winters or often after a cold or flu attack and it can develop quickly within a few days. It is difficult to diagnose pneumonia as it can be mistaken for a rough cold or cough that gets prolonged for more than normal.
Also Read: 25 Effective Home Remedies To Treat Cold And Cough in Babies & Kids (3 months to 3+ years)
Other causes of pneumonia can be as follows:
- Most cases of pneumonia are caused by various viruses, bacteria, parasites and viral pneumonia being the most common in babies.
- Babies can get infected by pneumonia at the time of birth, during delivery.
- Though the infection can occur to anyone, it is easily transmitted to babies and toddlers with weaker immunity or premature babies.
- Pneumonia generally begins after an infection of nose or throat where the symptoms show up only after 2-3 days.
- As the fluid fills up the air sac, there is difficulty in breathing which then makes it hard for the lungs to function correctly.
- Compared to viral, babies affected by bacterial pneumonia can quickly fall sick with high fever and speedy breathing.
Symptoms Of Pneumonia
The symptoms of both the types of pneumonia are different- Viral pneumonia being less severe and symptoms appearing more gradually than bacterial pneumonia.
Bacterial pneumonia is caused by bacteria Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumonia etc. and is the severe form of pneumonia. The foremost symptom of bacterial pneumonia is high fever and rapid breathing. The symptoms are sudden and not steady. There is a loss of appetite and speedy pulse, discoloration of nails and lips.
Flared nostrils and sinking chest are symptoms you should watch for in case of bacterial pneumonia. The uncommon symptom of this type of pneumonia is abdominal distress and stiff neck. It is also referred as walking pneumonia or atypical pneumonia.
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This type of pneumonic attack is more common in babies. It is moderate in nature where the symptoms start with cold, flu, fever, diarrhea, etc. and get worse if left untreated when the infection reaches the lungs and starts causing congestion by filling them up with mucus and fluids that block the air sacs and cause breathing difficulties. Viral Pneumonia is caused by viruses like flu virus, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus and para-influenza virus. Wheezing is experienced as a common symptom during viral pneumonia.
Other Symptoms Of Pneumonia:
Apart from the regular symptoms like cold, cough and fever, other symptoms that may or not be visible in babies may include nose congestion, chills, vomiting, chest pain, cough with yellowish or bloody stains, lack of appetite, dehydration and decreased activity.
Treatment And Prevention Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is treated depending on its severity with antibiotics or by admission to a hospital in severe cases. In cases of viral pneumonia, the baby can be home treated as the condition resolves on its own as the immune system fights the infection.
However a basic course of antibiotics is always prescribed to stay on the safer side. If the conditions do not fade away post 48 hours and the symptoms persist, hospital treatment might be required.
Also Read: Is Homeopathy safe for Babies?
Home Remedies For Treating Pneumonia In Babies
Alongside paediatric paracetamol in correct dosage, there are certain home remedies that can be used to comfort and improve the condition of your baby.
- Ensure your baby gets adequate rest throughout the day and is never short of fluids. Depletion of fluids can easily cause dehydration.
- Breastfeed in small portions to provide good amount of nutrition at regular intervals.
- Avoid multiple antibiotics for cough and cold as they would be ineffective during pneumonia.
- Keep your baby away from dust and pollutants in the air by maintaining a hygienic surrounding.
- Make sure to keep your baby up-to-date with vaccinations. Pneumococcal vaccines help in prevention of pneumonia.
- Have a smoke-free environment. Avoid smoking close to the baby as it might also make your baby more susceptible to asthma and other breathing problems.
Generally pneumonia lasts for 1-2 weeks until cured and 4-6 weeks to fade away completely. It is not contagious but it is important to keep your baby away from people who are coughing or sneezing simply to avoid any transfer of germs.
A well balanced diet with the necessary nutrition will not just keep your baby healthy but will also improve the immune system thereby fighting infection effectively. Breastfeeding your infant is one of the best ways to keep your baby strong and healthy due to the presence of natural antibodies in the milk.
Do not panic in cases of prolonged fever as it is a common condition during pneumonia and will subside with appropriate medication and rest.
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