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One of the worst things about pneumonia is how long it can take to recover from it, especially for children. Even after you stop being contagious and are able to get back to your normal routine, you can still have a cough that makes you sound and feel ill. So, how long will it take for your child to recover completely from pneumonia?
Working out how long pneumonia has lasted can be tricky because it isn’t always obvious when it begins. Pneumonia often appears as a secondary infection, which means that it sneaks in when the immune system is focused on battling another infection. Children might develop pneumonia at the end of a bout of the flu, or even after a simple cold. The main symptoms are a fever and coughing.
It can be difficult to tell when the symptoms of the first infection end and the second one begins. You might not realise that your child has pneumonia at first. It’s fairly common for parents to bring in a child to ask why their cough or cold has gone on for longer than normal, only to be told it’s actually pneumonia. If your child isn’t getting better from a cold after a few days or their flu symptoms seem to have lasted more than a week or two, then you should see a doctor. It’s also important to seek help if the symptoms are severe.
Pneumonia is a term that we use to describe an infection deep inside the lungs. The name tells you where the infection is located, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what is causing the infection. Pneumonia can be caused by several different types of bacteria and viruses. The type of pneumonia your child has can affect the symptoms and how long they last.
Other factors can also affect the recovery time for pneumonia in children, including:
However, for most children the symptoms of pneumonia will last for about 2-4 weeks. If the symptoms aren’t improving or the cough lasts longer than 4 weeks, you should consult your doctor.
Pneumonia isn’t as contagious as some other conditions (like the flu) because the infection is so deep inside the lungs. It’s actually quite rare for pneumonia to spread from one person to another, especially when it‘s a bacterial infection rather than a viral one. However, if you’re caring for a child with pneumonia there is a small chance you could be infected. You need to wash your hands regularly, especially if you’re handling used tissues or you come into contact with any mucus that’s been coughed up.
Some people are more likely to catch pneumonia or to be badly affected if they do. It’s therefore a good idea to keep your child away from other young children, the elderly, or anyone with underlying health problems. Your child could be contagious until the symptoms go away, in about 2-4 weeks. Once the fever goes down and your child stops coughing up phlegm, it should be safe for them to meet other people.
Although you might think that your child is fully recovered once the symptoms go away, the effects of pneumonia can actually last longer. Children can still feel weak and tired for a while after the infection is gone. Their bodies have worked so hard to clear the infection that they may need some time to get back to normal. You should expect it to take around 6-8 weeks for your child to feel back to normal.
Pneumonia can also have some longer term effects on the lungs. Some children will continue to cough for a while after the infection has gone. Sometimes this is because there is still some lingering mucus or debris they need to cough up. However, it can also be a habit.
If your child never coughs in their sleep or when they’re focusing on something else, then it could be a habit cough. Children are simply so used to coughing that they keep doing it. It’s important to realise they’re not doing this on purpose and aren’t usually aware of what’s happening. An experienced doctor can work with your child to overcome this habit in a sensitive manner.
Other effects on the lungs can also last for a while after your child has recovered from pneumonia. Your child might occasionally wheeze or feel breathless. It isn’t usually a sign of anything serious, but it’s a good idea to check with your doctor if you’re worried.
It can take months for a child to recover completely from pneumonia, even though the infection itself will be cleared up much faster. The recovery time could be even longer if your child experienced any complications while they were ill.
The recovery is mainly up to your child’s immune system, but there are a few things you can do to support it while it does it’s job and help your child feel better after pneumonia:
Do you have any other tips for helping your child to feel better after an infection?