Pneumonia is an acute lung infection caused by a microorganism. The microorganisms that cause pneumonia are multiple and vary greatly with the age of the child. Generally it is difficult to accurately determine the causative agent of a pneumonia, particularly when caused by bacteria. In the newborn, pneumonia is usually caused by microorganisms acquired from the mother at birth (Streptococo group B, Escherichia coli, etc.).. After this period, viruses are the most frequent agents, especially respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus but also, influenza and adenovirus.
Chlamydia trachomatis is a microorganism acquired from the mother at birth, which can cause pneumonia up to 4 months. Pneumococcus is a bacterium most often implicated in the origin of pneumonia in all ages. At school age, viral pneumonia are common mainly due to influenza virus, with increasing importance of emerging infections caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
Symptoms vary not only with the age of the child, but also with the microorganism causador.A most viral pneumonias has a gradual onset in 2-4 days. Often a family member has respiratory symptoms. The child gets a cold with nasal obstruction, with progressive cough and fever (usually below 39). In younger people it is common to have rapid breathing (tachypnea) and sometimes shortness of breath and wheezing. Bacterial pneumonia is more common that the beginning is abrupt with high fever (above 39). The cough may not exist at first, but gradually emerges, first dry becoming productive with yellowish or greenish sputum. Often the child is vomiting, may have diarrhea and abdominal pain. In some cases has frankly aspect patient.
How is it diagnosed pneumonia?
A child with fever, cough and rapid breathing, particularly if you have signs of respiratory distress or ill appearance, should be observed by the attending physician. This observation and in particular auscultation can diagnose pneumonia. Where there is need, the diagnosis can be confirmed with a chest radiograph. Sometimes, depending on the clinical condition of the child, it may be useful to analysis to evaluate the possible cause of pneumonia and the impact on the overall state.
As if pneumonia develops?
Under normal circumstances, our upper airways are inhabited by numerous bacteria living there without causing disease. Rather, the lower respiratory tract – ie, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli – is sterile, i.e., is free of microorganisms through the system’s defenses respiratory tract. When these defenses are overcome, the microorganisms can reach the lungs causing pneumonia. Generally the microorganisms reach the lung by inhalation. More rarely can reach the lung in other ways, including by circulation.
Much of the time the pneumonia can treat yourself without hospitalization of the child. In some cases, it is necessary to hospitalize treatment intravenously at least until stabilization. This happens in young children, the spewing, have great shortness of breath or look gravely ill. Also those with lung diseases, cardiac, neuromuscular disorders, immunodeficiency diseases, among others, it must be treated in hospital.
In viral pneumonia, symptomatic treatment is: paracetamol (to control fever), nasal obstruction, fluid intake and aerosols with saline (useful for maintaining the fluid secretions). Usually, the fever disappears until the fourth day, difficulty breathing and coughing progressively improves rarely persists beyond one or two weeks.
Bacterial pneumonia in addition to symptomatic measures described above, it is necessary to antibiotic treatment. This varies with age, clinical status and presumed cause of pneumonia. With proper treatment, it is expected that the fever goes away in 48-72 hours, progressively improving symptoms remaining.
Possible Complications of Pneumonia
Viral pneumonia usually have a good outcome and fewer complications. Sometimes after pneumonia caused by respiratory syncytial virus, the child may have more frequent respiratory symptoms, especially cough and wheezing for 2 or 3 years. Some rare pneumonia caused by adenovirus may be severe with prolonged evolution and leaving sequelae (bronchiolitis obliterans). Bacterial pneumonia with proper treatment usually not complicated. In some cases can arise pleural effusion (fluid in the pleura), pleural empyema (infection with pus in the pleura) or lung abscess (pus-filled cavity within the lung). These complications require more intensive medical care and often prolonged treatment. Nevertheless, currently most cases recovers slowly being uncommon sequelae important.