Mercy's Dr. Ashanti Woods Answers Questions About Pneumonia in Children
Board certified in Pediatrics, Ashanti Woods, M.D., FAAP, is an attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center. In a recent interview with SELF Magazine (online), Dr. Woods answered questions about pneumonia in kids given news of celebrity Kim Kardashian’s child being hospitalized with the condition.
How can you know the difference between pneumonia and a regular upper respiratory infection in kids?
Pneumonia is a bacterial infection of the lungs while an upper respiratory infection generally refers to a viral infection of the lungs (such as a cold). Both pneumonia and an upper respiratory infection in kids can cause a child to feel pretty miserable. However the symptoms of pneumonia are usually more dramatic. The symptoms of pneumonia include fever, cough, increased work of breathing, and irritability. It is not uncommon for the fever to return quickly after medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin have worn off. A child's energy is usually significantly decreased with the pneumonia. With an upper respiratory infection on the other hand, children usually have a mild to moderate cough, but are pretty much themselves. They will play like normal. It is not uncommon for children to have intense bouts of coughing at night which can be concerning to a parent. Humidifier and over-the-counter honey-based cough medicines are quite effective in treating upper respiratory infections.
How can you know if an infection is progressing to pneumonia?
Persistent fever and significant decrease in energy are generally signs that a child's process in the laws may be going to pneumonia.
What are the signs that your child actually has pneumonia?
While the symptoms of pneumonia include heavy cough, rapid breathing, fever, and decreased energy, the signs of pneumonia that a physician would hear or see on exam include cough, increased work of breathing. and a crackling sound within the lungs that the doctor here is when using the stethoscope. The crackling sound is similar to two pieces of Velcro being pulled apart. This sound is only heard with a stethoscope and not heard with one's ear while a child coughs.
At what point should you take your child to the doctor for a cough/congestion?
If your child fails to improve with rest, hydration, and fever reducer medicines. Also any child with increased work of breathing should be evaluated.
How is pneumonia treated in kids? (Is hospitalization normal or just for extreme cases?)
Hospitalization for pneumonia, especially in young children, is normal. While hospitalized, a child will likely receive intravenous antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and in some cases, oxygen supplementation. Some children, who may have a past medical history of asthma, may also need breathing treatments. However for an older fully vaccinated child, pneumonia is commonly treated with oral antibiotics. It should also be noted that pneumonia is a complication of the flu -- another reason that all children six months and older should receive the flu vaccination.
--Dr. Ashanti Woods, Mercy Pediatrics
Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.