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.

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How to prevent it?

Getting an annual flu shot may protect your kewpie from coming down with pneumonia. Dr Tang says influenza vaccines can be given to babies from as young as 6 months of age. “It is also universally recommended for all children below the age of 6 and a yearly booster dose is also usually required.”

Vaccinations are also the best form of protection for children who have pre-existing lung conditions like asthma, diabetes mellitus and cardiac disease.

Also, be sure to keep your preschooler away from anyone who may appear unwell as viruses and bacteria can be easily spread from one person to the next. Dr Tang says, “If infected droplets containing bacteria or virus enters the breathing tract of another person, it may lead to pneumonia.”

Getting an annual flu shot may protect your kewpie from coming down with pneumonia…influenza vaccines can be given to babies from as young as 6 months of age.

What treatment options are there?

If your child has a mild lung infection, it can be treated with a simple course of medication to relieve the symptoms. Dr Tang adds, “If it’s bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics will usually be prescribed.”

Delaying treatment will only worsen your child’s condition, resulting in poor feeding, dehydration and breathlessness, which can affect the level of oxygen being absorbed in your child’s body. If this is the case, junior may need to be admitted to hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

Some parents turn to alternative treatments like “percussion” or chest-pounding therapy to ease their child’s condition. This is a procedure where you tap on your child’s chest with cupped hands after a warm bath to loosen the mucous in his chest.

However, Dr Tang notes that there is “no conclusive evidence” to suggest that this form of treatment will improve the situation.

She explains, “Homeopathic treatments are not proven therapy for pneumonia and should not replace evidence-based treatment options like antibiotics used for bacterial pneumonia.”

Photos: iStock

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