With school back in session, kids are going to get sick. Coughs, sniffles, and a touch of fever are run of the mill for most kids. But how do parents know when a cold has turned into something more? When should they worry that their child’s virus has turned into pneumonia? And what should they do then?
On their website, the American Lung Association describes pneumonia as a “common lung infection caused by bacteria, a virus or fungi.” They go on to say that pneumonia can vary from mild to severe and “most healthy people recover from pneumonia in one to three weeks, but pneumonia can be life-threatening.” While most infections won’t turn into pneumonia, it is something parents should be aware of.
According to the World Health Organization, pneumonia is the most important cause of children’s death. While this illness should be taken seriously, KidsGrowth.com, a website dedicated to pediatric and adolescent medicine, tells parents not to panic. Their website states, “While some pneumonias are quite serious - particularly in newborns and in an older child with a vulnerable immune system - most pneumonias in children and adolescents are mild and easily treated.”
KidsGrowth.com says pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, chemical irritants, or foreign bodies and can cause a hacking cough, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and fever. They write, “The onset of symptoms is often gradual: a decrease in the youngster's energy may be the earliest sign, followed by symptoms suggesting a cold: headache, runny nose, sore throat, and fever. Unlike the typical cold, however, the child will gradually become worse over the next two weeks with a moist cough, worse at night.”
They suggest calling the child's pediatrician should be the following symptoms occur:
• Ongoing respiratory problems (for example, asthma)
• A cough that triggers a bad headache
• Breathing becomes labored and difficult