The symptoms of pneumonia in children can be very similar to a bad cough or cold, but there are a few key signs that you should be able to recognise. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you think that your child might have pneumonia or a chest infection.
The Symptoms of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection in the lungs. The most obvious symptoms of pneumonia are coughing and a high fever. The cough usually goes on longer than for a normal cold. Other possible symptoms of pneumonia in children can include headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea. Pneumonia can also cause breathing difficulties, especially in younger children. You might notice that your child’s nostrils are flaring; their chest is moving more than usual as they breathe, or they are wheezing or grunting.
The symptoms are often easy to confuse with the flu, especially as pneumonia often develops a few days after another infection. If you notice that a cold has gotten worse, rather than better, it could be a sign of a chest infection such as pneumonia. However, the symptoms can appear suddenly and they can be more severe than a cold.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if your child develops a severe fever or if you notice that a cough has lasted for more than a couple of weeks. You should also seek help if your child seems to be having trouble breathing or if they become less responsive. The doctor will probably need to perform a physical examination and listen to your child’s lungs with a stethoscope. Additional tests might be needed to confirm the cause of the lung infection and check that your child is getting enough oxygen. Pneumonia in children can usually be treated at home in the same way as flu, but if the symptoms are severe, your child may need to be admitted to hospital.