Also known as: bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia, fungal pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a type of lung infection/inflammation which may occur at any age though most often in infants and young children. It frequently occurs as a complication of other illnesses and varies from a mild disease to life-threatening. It occurs more often in the winter months and more frequently in boys. Pneumonia may be recurrent and then warrants special investigation.

What causes pneumonia?

Pneumonia can be caused by a number of factors, including viruses, bacteria, mycoplasmas, fungi and irritant chemicals or aspiration of stomach contents. Children who have been born prematurely, have chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, neurological impairment, have another respiratory infection, have compromised immunity or many other risk factors are all at an increased risk of getting pneumonia.

In newborn babies bacteria and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections are common. In infants, Streptococcus pneumoniae is the commonest bacterial cause.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

Newborns commonly present with poor feeding and irritability, fast and labored breathing, grunting and sometimes cyanosis (a bluish color to skin, nail beds, mouth/tongue and lips). In infants, cough with fast/difficult breathing, cyanosis, congestion, fever, irritability and/or lethargy and difficulty with feeding are common presentations.

In older children/adolescents all of the above symptoms may present however they, in addition may complain of lethargy, headache, sharp chest pain when taking a breath in (pleuritic pain), with vomiting, diarrhea and a sore throat commonly being present. Breathing Pneumonia frequently causes severe cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, headache and other symptoms. In all age groups, pneumonia may sometimes cause severe symptoms which may require hospitalization.

What are pneumonia care options?

Treatment depends on the age of the child, the clinical condition and the likely cause. Most children with pneumonia may be treated at home. Bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. With viral pneumonia, supportive care such as rest, plenty of fluids and medicine to treat symptoms is typical. Oxygen, hospitalization, breathing and other support may be required if symptoms become severe.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 05, 2019 02:45 PM