EXPERT ADVICE: Does my child have pneumonia?

Pneumonia symptoms can be similar to that of bronchitis and asthma, learn how to tell these illnesses apart.

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If your kewpie is running a high and persistent fever, breathing rapidly and has a chesty cough, he could be suffering from pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organization, pneumonia was responsible for the deaths of 16 per cent of children under age of 5 around the world in 2015. However, in Singapore, fewer than one in 1,000 children aged 1 to 5 are hospitalised every year for lung infections, notes Dr Jenny Tang, a paediatrician with SBCC Baby & Child Clinic.

Common causes of your little one’s lung infection are respiratory syncytial, parainfluenza and influenza A and B viruses. Bacterial infections are a close second.

You should also note that your child’s asthma can also co-exist or worsen with pneumonia.

What may start as a regular cold or flu — also referred to as an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) — can sometimes turn into pneumonia. Dr Tang lists signs that your child’s URTI has transitioned to a lung infection:

* A persistent fever lasting beyond five to seven days;

* The cold has seem to have “migrated” to the chest area — resulting in chesty coughs;

* Rapid breathing; and

* Your child appears unwell.

Incidentally, pneumonia symptoms are similar to that of bronchitis and asthma, too. However, Dr Tang points out, “Children with bronchitis often have a fever, cough and phlegm but aren’t usually breathless or appear unwell.”

On the other hand, children with asthma would have a history of wheezing. Dr Tang stresses, “Often, these symptoms are improve quickly with the use of inhaled bronchodilators like Ventolin inhalers.”

You should also note that your child’s asthma can also co-exist or worsen with pneumonia. So, do bring your kiddo to see the paedi as soon as possible.