Pneumonia is a serious life threatening illness in children. It is a form of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) that affects the lungs that are made up of small sacs called ‘Alveoli’. When they get infected, these alveoli fill with pus and fluids. This makes it difficult for the baby to breathe and limits the oxygen intake.
The Scary Statistics:
Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under the age of five.
Each year, pneumonia takes the life of 1.4 million children before they reach their fifth birthday*.
One child dies from Pneumonia every 15 seconds*.
In India, More than 370,0000 children below the age of 5 lost their lives due to Pneumonia in 2008.
Pneumonia is caused by Hib (Haemophilius influenza b) and pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumonia) bacteria.
Pneumonia can be easily prevented and treated
Catch the Symptoms:
Cough is the common symptom of respiratory infections including Pneumonia. Most children with cough cold and fever have upper respiratory tract infections due to viral infections and not Pneumonia. While children with Pneumonia can be treated with appropriate antibiotics, those with viral respiratory infections don’t require heavy medicines.
Children with Pneumonia experience fast breathing along with severe cough. In severe cases children may have in-drawing of the lower chest wall when he breathes in, which might lead to grunting and difficulty in breathing. If your child is experiencing the same consult a Pulmonologist or a Pediatrician immediately.
Treatment of Pneumonia:
In severe cases of Pneumonia, the child may be hospitalized and may need oxygen. Midler cases can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Hospitals usually conduct an X ray to check for any complications.
However precautionary measures are the key – frequent hand washing, general cleanliness reduces transmission of microorganisms. Exclusive breast feeding is recommended for adequate nutrition and immunity.
Prevention from Pneumonia:
As in most cases prevention is always better than treatment and vaccines are the most effective way to safe guard your child against Pneumonia. The pentavalent vaccine that protects children against 5 diseases including – Hib Pneumonia, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus and hepatitis B and the Streptococcus pneumonia vaccine are all available. Consult your Pediatrician to opt for the same.