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Ways to protect your child from pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection of our lungs caused by an accumulation of fluid or mucus inside the lungs. The buildups region comprises our alveoli (tiny air sacs), the air exchange units of the lungs responsible for pushing oxygen into the blood supply. 


Pneumonia is not contagious, but factors responsible for it may transmit from one individual to another. These factors include:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Fungus


Some other factors responsible for causing pneumonia are:

  • Progressive lung diseases
  • Smoking
  • Asthma
  • Use of a ventilator
  • Inhalation of food, saliva, or stomach acid in your lungs (aspirational pneumonia)


Pneumonia is one of the principal causes of child morbidity and mortality worldwide. Around 14% of child death is due to pneumonia every year. But most of these deaths are preventable.


Below are the five ways to protect your child from pneumonia:


Get a pneumonia vaccine:

A pneumonia vaccine cannot eliminate but significantly reduces the risk of pneumonia. 


Types of pneumonia vaccines:

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13)
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax 23)


Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

This vaccine protects against thirteen types of bacteria that may cause life-threatening infections in adults and children.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (or PCV13) is under the standard child vaccination protocol. It is generally given in three or four doses, with the first dose at the age of 2 months. The final dosage is by 15 months.


When should you not get a pneumonia vaccine?


If your child is allergic to PCV, they should not get the vaccine. 


What are the potential side effects of the pneumonia vaccine?


The pneumonia vaccines may show some side effects, such as: 

  • Redness 
  • Swelling at the injection site
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Chills

Note your children should not have the flu and the pneumonia vaccine together. It may increase the risk of getting fever-related seizures.


What are the best preventive tips against pneumonia?


Inculcate hand wash habits in your child

Personal hygiene practices can be the best protective measure for your child. Proper hand washing can prevent transferring infectious organisms like viruses, bacteria, and fungi into your children's respiratory system.


Teach your child the proper hand-washing techniques:

  • Wet the hands with clean running water.
  • Apply enough soap over all surfaces up to wrists.
  • Create a lather and rub hands together thoroughly.
  • Scrub all surfaces of hands, fingernails, fingertips, and wrists.
  • Wash hands up to wrists for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse the hands and wrists under clean running water.
  • Dry hands and wrists with a clean towel or air-dry them.
  • Turn off the faucet with the towel.
  • You can teach them to clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in case there is no access to soap and water.


Proper distancing techniques

Always teach your child to avoid exposure to infected people.

Most respiratory infections transmit from one person to another through aerosols or contaminated surfaces. 

Teach your child to avoid contact with sick people. If they are in a school or play area, ask them to wash their hands frequently, cover their nose and mouth with masks and avoid sharing personal items. 


Adopt healthy habits

Your body and the environment play a crucial role in making you capable of resisting infections leading to pneumonia.

Some of the steps that can make the lungs of your child healthy are:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Having an active lifestyle with daily exercise
  • Reducing exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Protecting them from pollution
  • Complete their vaccination schedule 


Do not let your children's cold develop into pneumonia.

If your child has a cold that has not been resolving for a few days, immediately consult your doctor about the steps to prevent it from developing into pneumonia.


How to take care of your child battling pneumonia?


If you think your child has symptoms of pneumonia, consult a doctor immediately. Most child pneumonia cases do not require hospitalization, and you can manage them effectively at home. 


Caring for a child at home


  • Strict adherence to the medicine

If the pediatrician has prescribed antibiotics, give them to the child at the correct time daily and for the complete prescribed course. Many of us tend to stop antibiotics a few days after the symptoms begin to subside. It is essential to complete the course to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. If your child has any side effects from the medicine, discuss it with your pediatrician. 


  • Avoid using OTC medicines

Before taking a medicine directly, always discuss it with your pediatrician. Most OTC medicines are not suitable for children less than six years of age.


  • Regular monitoring of your child

Do not take a wild guess and consider it fever if you feel their body is hot. It is better to check your child's body temperature with a thermometer after a few hours. Anything above 100.4 F is a fever. 


  • Maintain proper hydration level

Take proper care of your child's hydration levels. Optimum body fluid levels can help in the fast recovery of the medicine.


  • Give Your Child plenty of rest

Ask your child to have sufficient rest in the form of daytime naps, plays with minimal physical activity, or being on the couch most of the time work best.


  • Use of humidifiers

It helps moisten the air. The moist air may help your child in breathing comfortably.


What are the warnings signs of pneumonia?


If you observe the following signs while your child is recovering from pneumonia, consult the doctor immediately.

  • Your child has difficulty breathing. Signs of breathing difficulty are: 
  1. Rapid chest rise
  2. Rapid movement of the abdomen moving in and out 
  3. Sucking in beneath the ribs with nasal flaring
  • Bluish or greyish discoloration of the nails and nail beds due to oxygen deficiency
  • Worsening of other symptoms 


The Conclusion


Pneumonia is one of the most common infections affecting children. But the good news is this condition is easily preventable if we take care of our child's lifestyle and nutrition. Also, do not forget the importance of having pneumonia vaccines.

Medanta Medical Team
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