Baby Health

Signs That Your Child May Have Pneumonia



Do you know that Pneumonia accounts for one in four under-five deaths that is 1.5 million children die from pneumonia every year even though pneumonia is one of the solvable problems in global health? Nigeria ranks among countries that contribute 70 percent of the global burden of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, specifically in one or both air sacs. The sacs may become filled with pus which causes the following signs of pneumonia in children: fever, labored breathing and chills.

Some of the signs and symptoms of Pneumonia in children are:



  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low fever of 38.5 C or lower
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Cold-like symptoms such as a sore throat, chills, headache
  • Coughing that is dry and frequent
  • Rapid breathing with wheezing sounds
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shaking and chills
  • Vomiting
  • Mucus tinged with blood or has a green or rust color
  • Poor feeding (in infants) and decreased appetite (in older children)

If you notice any of these symptoms make sure you take your child to the hospital immediately. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, a fungus, viruses or parasites. For bacteria, the organisms that antibiotics are responsible for pneumonia are Streptococcus and mycoplasma. For those with compromised immune systems, pneumonia can be caused by organisms such as Pneumocystis jiroveci. This is responsible for frequent pneumonia bouts in those who have HIV. Hence, a doctor may recommend an HIV test.

A child may develop pneumonia by:

  • Breathing pneumonia-infected air or certain bacteria
  • Having a viral upper respiratory infection such as the cold or flu
  • Experiencing complications with other diseases such as chicken pox or measles
  • Breathing gastric juices from the stomach and large amounts of food into the lungs, or vomiting into the lungs. This usually occurs in a seizure or stroke

Pneumonia can either be community-associated pneumonia (spread at school or work, for example) or healthcare-associated pneumonia (spread through hospitals).

Once on antibiotics, a child with pneumonia has a smaller chance of passing on the bacteria to anyone else at home. Nevertheless, be sure that everyone at home:

  • Washes hands frequently and correctly
  • Must avoid using the same cups, plates or utensils with the sick child
  • Must have up to date immunizations to prevent other infections
  • Boost a child’s immune system by allowing him to get enough sleep, adequate exercise and have a healthy diet
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue and wash your hands’ thereafter

Young children are more susceptible to contracting pneumonia and this can be a potentially life-threatening illness if left untreated. Pneumonia should not be taken lightly, and parents should ensure that they look out for signs of pneumonia in children especially when they have been unwell for a persistent period.

Make sure your child gets the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, PCV to protect him/ her against the disease and make sure every member of your family is also vaccinated

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How My Baby Died From Severe Pneumonia



My baby was healthy. She had fever for two days and I was going to bring her to the doctor the next morning, but she started vomiting at midnight so we brought her to the hospital immediately.

When they got to the hospital, the medical staff hooked her baby to an IV, through which they gave her a medication to stop severe vomiting.

The next day, around noon, her baby started throwing up again. The medication didn’t work. She had asked for help, but there was only one nurse on duty as most of the staff had left to attend a party.



“We were calling out for help but no one helped us. I had to carry my child all the way to the emergency room because the doctors were there and we were in a ward,” she said, adding how her baby was struggling to breathe.

The only nurse on duty hooked her baby to a nebuliser, but it was too late. She recalls screaming for help, but they couldn’t save her baby.

Her baby, who she describes was perfectly healthy, had died because her lungs had filled up with phlegm, making it impossible for her to breathe.

Contrary to popular believe pneumonia is not caused by cold weather or getting wet but it is actually an infection. A cold or flu that gets worse can turn into pneumonia. That’s because the cold or flu will irritate the lungs, creating an environment where it’s easier for pneumonia germs to move in and start an infection.

  • The cause of pneumonia can either be fungi, bacterial, or viral.
  • It can be prevented through vaccination, proper nutrition, and through providing the proper environment: avoiding pollution and practicing good hygiene.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life has also been found to help.
  • If the cause of the condition is bacterial in nature, it can be treated with antibiotics. Sadly, only 1/3 of children diagnosed with pneumonia receive the needed antibiotics.

Normally, pneumonia begins as a mild cough or sore throat, much like other respiratory infections.

  • fever (usually above 38.5°C)
  • shivering
  • cough
  • rapid breathing
  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest or abdominal pain
  • poor appetite
  • exhaustion
  • vomiting
  • dehydration

However, it’s important for parents to know that there is a type of pneumonia, or what is known as Walking Pneumonia, that is so mild and subtle that those who have it barely show any symptoms. Though not easily detected, it can be treated with antibiotics. 

Pneumonia can affect anyone of any age, if you notice any of these symptoms in your child or even yourself be sure to visit the hospital as soon as possible to get it treated.  

Source: The Asian Parent 

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