Pneumonia is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi in one or both lungs. As a result of the infection, there occurs an inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs.
There are various types of pneumonia, one of which is walking pneumonia impacting children five years of age or above. Walking pneumonia can also happen in adults.
In this article, we will look at the symptoms of walking pneumonia in children and know about the treatment options available. Read the article till the end also to know about what caregivers can do to minimize the illness.
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Can a child go to school with walking pneumonia?
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How long does it take for walking pneumonia to clear up?
What are the symptoms of walking pneumonia?
Symptoms of walking pneumonia are usually not major and would not need hospitalization unless it is the case of encephalitis, which leads to swelling in the brain. This is, however rare in nature.
Walking pneumonia symptoms are like that, of the common cold and mostly children being more energetic than adults would not complain or feel sick. There would also be no disturbance in eating, sleeping and bowel movements of the kid.
Walking pneumonia is named so by the fact that children find themselves comfortable in continuing with their daily habits, including going to school.
Below given is a list of common symptoms of walking pneumonia
- Cough with a low-grade fever generally not exceeding 101°F
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Sore throat
- Ear pain or Sinus
- Chest or rib pain
- Loss of appetite in older children
Causes of Walking Pneumonia and Risk Factors
All types of pneumonia are caused due to a lung infection.
- With regards to walking pneumonia, it is often caused by an infection due to bacterium mycoplasma pneumonia.
- Other causes of walking pneumonia are due to respiratory viruses, such as a respiratory syncytial virus.
- As suggested by studies, the environment surrounding an individual has an impact and may prove to be a factor causing pneumonia. E.g. if the child’s caregivers smoke around the child, then that child may be more susceptible to developing pneumonia.
- Another environmental factor could be living conditions like very crowded spaces or homes with significant air pollution, which can cause lung infection.
- And children with other health conditions or weakened immune systems are also at higher risk for pneumonia.
When to see a doctor
When you feel that symptoms are worsening or the child appears to be uncomfortable, cranky or feel warm read the temperature using a thermometer. If the temperature for an infant under six months goes above 100.4°F and for older babies, if it goes above 102°F, you should speak to the doctor.
Shortness of breath and pain in the chest are other symptoms that need immediate medical support and thus need to be watchful.
Diagnosing the Disease
Basis the symptoms, medical history and physical examination of the child the doctor will be able to diagnose walking pneumonia.
While x-rays or lab tests may not be required in most of the cases of walking pneumonia, it may be suggested if symptoms go adverse or if the doctor finds it necessary to rule out any other kind of chest infection.
Treating Walking Pneumonia
If it is a bacterial infection, it is usually treatable with an antibiotic.
A viral infection takes time, and the doctor may suggest taking rest, which helps fight illness, and the child can recover sooner.
Other than this, you need to ensure that your child stays hydrated all the time. Give him enough fluid in the form of water, soup, sugar-free popsicles, drinks such as Gatorade.
If there is a pain in the chest, using a heating pad or warm compress may prove helpful.
Using a humidifier in the room can help to ease breathing issues by providing moisture in the air.
Avoid using any cough suppressants.
Ensure that your child’s vaccinations are not due. If it is not up-to-date, it is a good decision to get your child vaccinated at some of the vaccines of childhood protect against pneumonia-like pneumococcal, measles, and varicella vaccines.
Vaccines also aid in controlling other infections which can take place simultaneously with pneumonia.
Walking pneumonia, in most cases, gets cleared off by one week to one month but may get prolonged to six weeks in certain scenarios.
Also Read: During Pregnancy Stress Shortens Baby’s Life
Is Pneumonia Contagious?
Cases of pneumonia caused by viruses and mycoplasma may be contagious. As caregivers, you need to be careful in taking precautions that reduce the risk of spreading it to other people.
- Ensure that there are proper hygiene and good handwashing practised by the child.
- Teach your child to cough into elbow instead of their hands.
- There should be no sharing of towels, cups or cutlery, toothbrushes, tissues even after the treatment has started.
- Be extra vigilant to notice if there are any other symptoms such as breathing difficulties.
Giving enough rest to the body is the major requirement. So even if the child feels well enough to return to school, you should avoid it till the time fever has not resolved. This may otherwise also result in spreading the germs to other children.
Walking pneumonia in most of the cases gets over soon. Care should be taken to follow the precautions and medications suggested by the doctor properly. Take enough rest and if antibiotics recommended, finish the entire course.
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