Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. It is one of the leading infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Lungs contain millions of small air sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy child breathes. In pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid which makes the child to breathe difficult leading to decreased oxygen intake.
Causes of infectious pneumonia are bacterial, viral, mycobacterial & rarely fungal, rickettsial, parasitic apart from some non-infectious causes. S.pneumoniae, H.influenza, S.aureus are the major causes of hospitalization & death from bacterial pneumonia in India. Mycoplasma pneumonia is more common in school aged children. Viral pneumonias are more common in the winter in relation to the seasonal epidemics of respiratory viral infections that occur each year & spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze.
Risk factors of Pneumonia
Risk factors for getting pneumonia include
- Premature Birth
- Repeated Wheezing
- Lung Anomalies
- Heart Defects
- Poor Nutrition
How to diagnose Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is diagnosed by :
- Fever, fast breathing or chest wall in drawing during inspiration.
- Often preceded by cough & running nose with further confirmation by X-ray & blood investigations.
- Very severely ill child may be unable to feed or drink, become lazy, & drowsy ,may also turn blue, gradually progressing to respiratory failure & coma.
Early recognition and treatment leads to better outcome. Hospitalization is required in case of age <6 months, immunocompromised state, moderate to severe respiratory distress requiring oxygen support or if not responding to oral antibiotic therapy. If viral pneumonia is suspected, it is reasonable to withhold antibiotic therapy, especially for those children who are mildly ill & are in no respiratory distress.
Pneumonia Prevention :
With rapid emergence of multidrug antimicrobial resistance prevention remains the mainstay in deceasing the disease burden & severity.
- Immunization against Hib, Pneumococcus, measles, pertussis, varicella, seasonal Influenza H1N1
- Adequate nutrition, breast feeding for the first 6 months of age
- Adequate complimentary weaning
- Addressing environmental factors such as indoor & outdoor air pollution
- Encouraging good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing with soap
- Covering mouth & nose during coughing
- Avoiding parental smoking will definitely help in preventing pneumonia.