Phillipa Musoke, an associate professor at Makerere University Department of pediatrics and College of Health School, defines pneumonia as an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. Pneumonia is specifically located in the lower respiratory system, and causes fluid and pus to fill one or both lung cavities.
This obstruction of the lungs, prevents oxygen from being properly absorbed, and makes it difficult and painful to breath. In addition to shortness of breath, other symptoms of pneumonia include, coughing, chest pain, fever, chills, and or vomiting.
Of the estimated 6.9 million children who die annually, 1.2 million or 18% of the deaths, are because of pneumonia. This makes pneumonia the leading cause of death in young children, with a child dying from every 20 seconds, from this infection. Most of these deaths occur in impoverished nations, where there is not adequate medical care.
There are ways to prevent pneumonia, and other respiratory infections. One of the best is having good oral hygiene practices. Children should be taught to cough or sneeze into a tissue, or an elbow sleeve instead pf their hands. And also to wash their hands on a regular basis.
Adults should make sure to keep hard surfaces, such as door knobs and counter tops clean and germ free. And make sure young children have limited access to second hand cigarette smoke. In the USA, there are also vaccines,( influenza, measles. chickenpox, pertussis, and pnuemococcal) which prevent viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia.
Young children’s immune systems are not able to fight off deadly germs, as an adult can. Parents should pay close attention to their children, so that signs of pneumonia are not missed. Colds and flu may run their course, without a trip to the ER, but pneumonia requires immediate medical attention.
My 2 year old grandson recently had cold symptoms,(coughing, sneezing, running nose and a fever). My daughter noticed that his temperature was rising, and his breathing seemed labored. He was taken to the emergency room, and admitted to the hospital, where he spent two nights.
The diagnosis was pneumonia. He was given breathing treatments with steroids, antibiotics, and placed on oxygen. His one year old sister had a running nose, and a temperature of 104. She had no breathing problems, yet she too received the same diagnosis. She however was prescribed antibiotics and sent home. My oldest grandson, had a fever and running nose, but was diagnosed as only having a cold.
When I was a child, I often heard adults saying; “Come in out of that weather,( extreme cold, rain, or snow) or you will die of pneumonia. Therefore I thought, my grandchildren were sick because of standing in the rain during a recent out of town trip.
According to Dr. Eric Wobudeya, a pediatrician at Mulago Hospital, this is not true. He says exposure to coldness, and or playing in the rain does not cause pneumonia. Wobudeya states that pneumonia is caused by either a viral of bacterial infection.
Children may pass pneumonia germs to older adults, during family get together’s during the holidays. So it is important for everyone, to do all they can to keep germs from spreading. There is no cure for viral pneumonia, therefore doctors treat every case of pneumonia, with antibiotics. Although physicians can take an educated guess, based on symptoms, the only fool proof method of diagnosing pneumonia, is a chest ex-ray.