Causes of pneumonia
The most common causes of pneumonia in children are viral or bacterial infections. Less common causes of pneumonia in children are when the lungs are irritated by chemicals or other things inhaled into the lungs. Irritants may include chemicals (like spray from household cleaners), liquids (like swimming pool water or formula and other beverages), objects (like a small peanut or other food), or allergic triggers (like dust).
Types of pneumonia
Pneumonia from infection is most common during the fall, winter, and early spring and can follow a cold, an ear infection, or a sore throat. The following are different types of pneumonia:
Viral pneumonias do not improve with antibiotics. At home, make sure that your child gets rest, plenty of fluids, and if necessary, medicines to reduce fever.
Bacterial pneumonias can be serious and should be treated with antibiotics right away. At home, make sure that your child gets rest, plenty of fluids, and if necessary, medicines to reduce fever.
Pneumonia from irritants inhaled in the lungs is most common in children with special health care needs. This includes children with neuromuscular problems, like cerebral palsy.
Allergic pneumonias are not common in children. When cases are reported it's often in dusty, rural areas.
Medicines for your child
After an exam, the doctor may order a blood test or an x-ray. These tests can help your doctor decide how to treat your child's infection. If your child needs medicine, be sure you know the right amount, when to give the medicine, and if you should give food with it. If you forget or don't understand the instructions on the medicine label, call the doctor or your pharmacist for help.
The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic if pneumonia is caused by bacteria, or an antiviral medicine if the pneumonia is caused specifically by influenza.
Antibiotics and antivirals can be given in 3 ways.
Oral (by mouth). Oral antibiotics can usually be taken at home. It's important that your child continue to take the antibiotic for the number of days prescribed even if your child feels better.
Injection. Your doctor may suggest giving an antibiotic shot, especially if your child is having a lot of trouble with vomiting.
IV. If your child is being treated in the hospital, the antibiotic may be given by vein through an IV tube.
Fever and pain medicine
Your child's doctor may also recommend medicine to decrease fever and aches. Call the doctor for fever lasting more than 2 or 3 days even after giving antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia. Never give your child aspirin unless prescribed by the doctor. It can be dangerous for children younger than 18 years.
No cough medicine
A cough can last from days to weeks, but do not give your child cough medicine. Cough medicine doesn't work and it may keep your child from coughing up mucus that needs to come out of the lungs.