Pneumonia is a deadly illness easily contracted by children, especially in the wake of the storm season. Protect your child today by being aware of the symptoms and knowing how to deal with them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pneumonia (or bronchopneumonia as the most common case with children) is an inflammation of the lungs caused by infection from bacteria, fungi and viruses. The infection causes the lungs to fill up with fluid, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Symptoms include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Chills and trembling or shaking
- Chest pains that fluctuate with breathing (pleurisy)
- Belly pain
- Muscle pain
It is recommended that you take your child to a doctor immediately if she has these symptoms—especially a lasting fever of 38.9 C (102 F) or higher with chills and sweating—or if she suddenly feels worse after a cold or the flu. Pneumonia in children, whether it is bacterial or viral in origin, must immediately be treated by a doctor. It is fatal if left untreated.
Pneumonia and the Government
The Department of Health has the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) program, a strategy used in providing holistic health care for kids under 5 years old. If you suspect your child has pneumonia, you can take him to DOH and Philhealth-accredited clinics, health centers or hospitals. Be advised though that not all centers can carry out the IMCI program due to limited local sources of drugs and problems in the drug distribution system on the regional and local levels.
Wash your hands. Make your child wash her hands regularly. Whatever prevents coughs and colds from spreading (covering your mouth while coughing, not spitting everywhere, etc.) also prevents the spread of pneumonia.
Ask your pediatrician about securing a pneumonia vaccine for your child. The U.S.-based Center for Disease Control states that the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all children less than 59 months (5 years) old. Some flu shots may also work against pneumonia.
With the right treatment, most children should recover completely.
- Interview with Helen M. Uy, M.D., pediatrician
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Mayo Clinic website
- Department of Health website
- Kids Health website
Photography by David Hanson Ong
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