Pneumonia is one of the most frequently encountered disease of the lung with features of fever, chills, cough, difficulty in breathing. No age group is spared by it. It is not a new entity as it has been affecting humans all throughout its history. Our understanding of the disease and its causative agent has evolved and matured over a period of time with emphasis not just on the treatment but also on preventive aspect as well. In this article, we will explore the different ways by which we can keep our lung healthy this winter to prevent pneumonia.
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What Happens If Pneumonia Occurs In Kids?
Pneumonia in children is often caused by viral infections like influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but bacterial infections can also play a significant role.
In this regard, Dr Vrushali Bichkar, who is a Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, at Motherhood Hospital, Lullanagar, Pune said, "While adults can usually recover from pneumonia with minimal complications, children under the age of five are more vulnerable to severe symptoms and long-term consequences. One aspect that sets pediatric pneumonia apart is its ability to quickly escalate into a life-threatening condition."
"Children with pneumonia may experience rapid breathing, high fever, and difficulty feeding or drinking. In severe cases, their lips and nails may turn blue due to a lack of oxygen. Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital to prevent further complications such as lung abscesses or systemic inflammation. Infants exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased likelihood of developing pneumonia due to weakened immune systems and damaged airways. Furthermore, unvaccinated children face higher risks as several vaccinations protect against diseases that can cause pneumonia. It is essential to take utmost care of children with pneumonia," she added.
Tips To Take Care When Pneumonia Occurs In Kids:
When it comes to taking care of pneumonia in kids, the most crucial aspect is early diagnosis. Dr Vrushali Bichkar said, "Pneumonia can be tricky to spot in children, as their symptoms may not appear as severe as they do in adults. Keep an eye out for common signs such as coughing, rapid breathing, and fever. If you notice any of these symptoms persisting or worsening over time, it's crucial to seek medical attention promptly."
She further went on to mention the folloiwng:
- Once a diagnosis is confirmed, follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan diligently. Antibiotics are typically prescribed for bacterial pneumonia while antiviral medications may be used for viral pneumonia. It's essential to complete the entire course of medication prescribed by your doctor, even if your child starts feeling better sooner.
- Ensure your child gets plenty of rest and fluids to aid their recovery process. Providing a comfortable environment with mild temperatures can also alleviate discomfort and support their healing journey.
- Prioritising vaccination schedules along with implementing smoke-free environments will significantly reduce the incidence of this potentially life-threatening infection among young ones.
- Maintaining good hygiene practices like frequent handwashing can help prevent the spread of infectious agents that could worsen symptoms or cause reinfection. You can also use a humidifier or steamy shower sessions for quick relief from congested airways caused by mucus buildup.
- Keeping your child away from smoke and other air pollutants is crucial for preventing further respiratory irritation during this vulnerable period.
Tips To Take Care Of Lung Health In Kids:
Dr Vishal Parmar, who is a consultant Pediatrician, at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road said, "Currently, a large number of children are facing lung problems due to air pollution. Keeping your child's lungs healthy is vital for their overall growth, development, and quality of life."
He further listed the following:
- One effective strategy to safeguard young lungs is by reducing exposure to pollutants both indoors and out.
- Children should be kept away from second-hand smoke as it can hamper lung function.
- In addition to environmental detoxification, regular checks for mold in the home space are also essential.
- Diet also plays a significant role in maintaining lung health in children. Foods rich in antioxidants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds can boost children's immune system helping reduce the risk of respiratory infections that might cause damage to the lungs.
- Regular physical activity encourages stronger lung function by boosting oxygen capacity. Ensure your child stays active by exercising on a daily basis. Children should also do breathing exercises under the guidance of an expert. But, avoid exercising outdoors on bad air days.
- Children with any co-existing lung problems should get regular check-ups as suggested by the doctor.
- It is essential to improve the air quality by using an air purifier at home.
- Ensure there is no burning of wood or thrash near home.
- Maintaining optimal hydration levels by consuming fluids all day is crucial for the lungs, just as it is for the entire body.
- Proper hydration aids in maintaining a thin mucosal lining in the lungs. This leaner lining enhances lung performance.
- Parents should check the air quality of their area before stepping out of the house.
Tips To Keep Your Lungs Healthy:
Dr Gopi Krishna Yedlapati who is a Sr. Consultant Interventional Pulmonologist & Clinical Director at Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad suggested a few tips for a healthier lung to combat pneumonia in general.
1. HAND HYGIENE
Pneumonia is caused by a variety of infectious organisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi. It is not uncommon for people to cover their mouth with hands while coughing, effectively transferring them to their hands. This can easily be kept in check by thoroughly washing hands and avoiding contact of hands with nose.
2. COUGH HYGIENE
Cough is not just a common symptom of pneumonia but also an important mode of transfer of organism from a patient to a healthy person. Covering mouth while coughing, ideally with a cloth like handkerchief, can drastically cut down the transfer of germs.
3. HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Body’s immunity plays a big role as final defense line in fighting infection. Adopting a healthier life-style like a balanced diet, enough rest, regular exercise, avoiding smoking and exposure to harmful chemicals, has a profound effect immune response against pneumonia
4. DEALIING WITH COMMON COLD
Early dealing with common cold helps to avoid turning it into more serious pneumonia. Talk with your doctor about proactive measures for treatment of common cold. It is not uncommon for a simple viral flu to invite a more serious bacterial infection (secondary bacterial infection)
Vaccination against common bacteria and viruses causing pneumonia reduces the risk of contracting an infection serious enough to land up in hospitalization. There are commercially available vaccines both for immunocompetent and immunocompromised persons. Consulting your doctor for a vaccine suitable for you is advisable.
[Disclaimer: The information provided in the article, including treatment suggestions shared by doctors, is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.]
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