Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Most cases of pneumonia are caused by viruses, but pneumonia can also be caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites. Pneumonia affects people of all ages and can be mild to severe depending on the type of infection, a person’s age, general state of health and underlying medical conditions. The good news is that most pneumonia can be treated.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Symptoms vary depending on the age of the child and the cause of the pneumonia, but common ones include:
With treatment, most types of bacterial pneumonia can be cured within one to two weeks while viral pneumonia may take longer.
HOW IT SPREADS
The viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia are contagious, but the disease itself is not. Many people exposed to the same viruses will develop common cold symptoms. The illness spreads when an infected person sprays droplets from his mouth or nose by coughing or sneezing into the air, by sharing drinking glasses, silverware or plates or when someone touches or handles the used tissues of an infected person.
Certain risk factors make some children more likely to get pneumonia. Kids with a weakened immune system, like premature and young infants, children with immunodeficiencies, and those with chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes are more likely to develop pneumonia. Adolescents who smoke and children exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of developing pneumonia.
If you suspect your child has pneumonia, take him to the doctor. Your pediatrician may be able to diagnose pneumonia after physically examining your child and listening to his lungs. Other tests like chest X-rays, blood tests and bacterial cultures of mucus may help with diagnosis.
Usually pneumonia can be treated at home with oral antibiotics. Be sure to follow your doctor’s directions and give your child his medication on schedule and for as long as prescribed. If your child has severe wheezing or has asthma, your doctor may recommend a nebulizer and an inhaler. Cough suppressants aren’t recommended for children with pneumonia because they stop the productive cough that often helps clear mucus from the lungs.
Call your doctor or seek medical care immediately if your child is not able to take fluids by mouth and keep them down, if his skin color is pale or blue, or if he is having trouble breathing.
Children who have a form of pneumonia that causes high fevers and respiratory distress may need to be hospitalized. Other symptoms/conditions that may require hospitalization include:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, some types of pneumonia can be prevented by vaccines. These vaccines include:
Other ways to prevent the spread of respiratory infections which can lead to pneumonia include regular hand washing, cleaning doorknobs, faucet handles and counters with a bleach-based disinfectant, covering your mouth with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and limiting exposure to secondhand smoke.
|DISEASE||TRANSMISSION||INCUBATION PERIOD||CONTAGIOUS PERIOD|
|Bronchiolitis||Spread via respiratory droplets through sneezing or coughing||2 to 10 days||Onset of cough until 7 to 10 days|
|Chickenpox (Varicella)||Airborne or via skin contact with lesions||10 to 21 days||2 days before rash appears until all sores have crusted|
|Colds||Spread via respiratory droplets or direct contact with infected person or object||2 to 4 days||Onset of runny nose until fever is gone
|Croup (viral)||Spread via respiratory droplets or contact with infected person or object||2 to 6 days||Onset of cough until fever is gone
|Diarrhea||Contact with feces||Depends on causative agent (bacterial 1 to 7 days; viral 1 to 4 days)||Depends on causative agent; usually until stools are formed. (See specific agents)
|Fifth Disease (Parvo virus)||Spread via respiratory droplets||Usually 4 to 14 days, but can be as long as 21 days||7 days before rash until rash begins|
|Hand-foot-mouth (Coxsackie)||Spread via respiratory droplets, fecal/oral contact or fluid from blisters||3 to 6 days||Onset of mouth ulcers until fever is gone (respiratory tract shedding usually 1 week; fecal can be several weeks)
|Hepatitis A||Fecal contact||15 to 50 days||1 to 2 weeks before jaundice begins until 1 week after onset of jaundice
|Hepatitis B||Contact with infected blood/body fluids||45 to 160 days||Indefinite period. If Hepatitis e antigen is positive, at risk for transmission|
|Herpes Simplex||Oral/genital skin contact||2 days to 2 weeks||Initial infection: 1 week to several weeks (oral/genital). Recurrent infection: 3 to 4 days
|Impetigo||Direct skin contact with lesion and contact with infected objects||7 to 10 days||Onset of sores until 1 day on antibiotics
|Influenza||Spread via respiratory droplets or contact with infected person or object||1 to 4 days||24 hours before onset of symptoms until fever is gone, about 7 days
|Lice||Spread via contact with skin or hair||10 to 14 days||Onset of itch until 24 hours after first treatment
|Meningococcus||Spread via respiratory droplets||1 to 10 days||7 days before symptoms to 24 hours after treatment begins
|Mononucleosis||Contact with infected saliva||30 to 50 days||Undetermined, but usually 6 weeks
|MRSA||Spread via contact with infected person, person who is a carrier of the disease, or contaminated surface.||One to 10 days||Varies depending on whether infection is active and if person is seeking treatment|
|Pertussis (whooping cough)||Spread via respiratory droplets||Five to 21 days||Two weeks after onset of cough or until five days on antibiotics
|Pink-eye or Conjunctivitis (bacterial)||Spread via contact with eye drainage
||2 to 7 days||Onset of pus until symptoms have resolved
|Rotavirus||Direct or indirect contact with infected people||2 to 4 days||Before onset of diarrhea until 10 to 12 days after onset
|Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter||Fecal contact||Salmonella - 12 to 36 hours
Shigella & Campylobacter - 1 to 7 days
|Contagious until diarrhea is resolved; sometimes with prolonged excretions with salmonella
|Scabies||Contact with clothing, bedding or skin of infected animal or person||4 to 6 weeks (previous exposure 1 to 4 days)||Onset of itch until one treatment completed
|Scarlet fever||Spread via airborne respiratory droplets and direct contact||1 to 2 days||Onset of fever or rash until 1 day on antibiotics
|Sore throat (viral)||Spread via respiratory droplets||2 to 5 days||Onset of sore throat until fever is gone|
|Strep throat||Spread via respiratory droplets||2 to 5 days||Onset of sore throat until 1 day on antibiotics|
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