What is Pneumonia and What Causes it?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung that causes fluid to collect in the air sacs (alveoli). It can occur in children of all ages, and is most common in winter. Pneumonia is usually a complication of a cold and most pneumonias are not considered to be contagious. Approximately 80% of pneumonia cases are caused by viruses and 20% by bacteria. Viral pneumonia is usually milder than bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia tends to start quicker, have higher fevers (often over 104 degrees F), and involve a larger area of the lung. Only bacterial pneumonia is helped by antibiotics. Because it's sometimes difficult to distinguish bacterial pneumonia from viral pneumonia, antibiotics may be given to some of the children with viral pneumonia as well.

What is the Expected Course?
Most children with pneumonia can be cared for at home. Only 10% of pneumonia cases are admitted to the hospital and this is usually for intravenous fluids and/or oxygen. Bacterial pneumonia, when treated with antibiotics, usually improves within 24 to 48 hours. Viral pneumonia, however, has a gradual recovery of two to four weeks.

Caring For Your Child At Home:
  • Be sure to follow your doctors' instructions and continue with antibiotics, if prescribed, for the prescribed number of doses/days.
  • To manage fever at home, use Tylenol (acetaminophen) for moderate fever. If fever is 102 degrees F, repeat dosage as prescribed by your doctor every 4-6 hours as needed.
  • To relieve coughing spasms, warm liquids will usually relax the airway and loosen secretions. Dry air tends to make coughs worse , so if possible, use a bedside humidifier in your child's room. Encourage your child to cough up secretions if possible. Also keep your child away from cigarette smoke as it aggravates coughing and can make the cough last longer.

Call Your Doctor Immediately If Your Child:

  • Has difficulty breathing or makes grunting sounds when pushing the air out
  • Starts acting very sick
  • Lips become bluish
During Normal Office Hours If Your Child:
  • Has a fever that lasts longer than 48 hours
  • Is unable to sleep
  • Is not drinking enough fluids
  • Or you have any questions or concerns