Pneumonia in Children

Overview of Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia is a type of acute respiratory infection of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses.

Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia in children is a fairly common condition. Globally it affects around 150-250 children under the age of 5 years annually.
In developing countries like Pakistan, Pneumonia can cause serious complications if timely treatment is not provided. Walking Pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia in children. Under normal circumstances, walking pneumonia is less severe than other types of this disease.

What is Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a type of acute respiratory infection of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Pneumonia develops as a result of some undergoing viral or bacterial illness.
These viruses or bacteria cause the air sacs to be filled with some fluid-like mucus or phlegm. Blockage in air sacs causes difficulty in breathing.
Pneumonia is a contagious disease and transfers from one person to another in a number of ways. Pneumonia can also be caused by certain chemical irritants.

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Types of Pneumonia in Children

Watch out for these signs and symptoms and consult your general physician immediately if you think your child is developing any initial symptoms or showing any signs.

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • High fever
  • Sore throat leading to coughing
  • Severe chills
  • Pains in chest
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Pneumonia usually begins like the flu. Your body shows the initial signs of flu. Then over the passage of time, the flu-like conditions get worse. Pneumonia caused by bacteria is more severe than one caused by viruses.


Risk Factors of Pneumonia in Children

The most causes of pneumonia are:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae - this pneumonia occurs due to bacteria and is a type of pneumonia that is most common among children.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) - this type of pneumonia is also caused by bacteria and is the second most common cause of pneumonia in children.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus - this virus is the leading cause of viral pneumonia in children.
  • Pneumocystis jiroveci - infants who are injected with HIV develop pneumonia. This is responsible for at least one-quarter of deaths caused by pneumonia.

Is your child at risk of getting pneumonia?

An individual of any age group can get this disease. But it is most common among children. According to the world health report, Pneumonia single-handedly is the leading cause of children's death around the world.
Almost all communities around the world face this issue but pneumonia is still highly prevalent in South Asia. Protection against pneumonia is possible through simple interventions and low-cost medications and supportive care.
Most of the time, children who have high vulnerability for this disease are:

  • Those who already have some underlying medical condition like some heart or lung issue
  • Children who have asthma
  • Premature babies
  • Children who have weaker immune positive or HIV positive children

How is this infection transmitted?

Pneumonia can be transmitted in a couple of ways. These may include:

  • Through air-born droplets when a sick person coughs or sneezes
  • Through blood - this may during or shortly after birth
  • These bacteria or viruses when inhaled cause damage to the lungs.



Children with a strong and well-developed immune system use their natural defenses to fight this illness off. But children with a weaker immune system face many difficulties when exposed to this illness.
Some underlying medical conditions and malnutrition also make your child vulnerable to this illness. Following environmental factors also contribute to the increased risk of pneumonia:

  • Exposure to lung irritants - long term exposure to these chemical lung irritants also lower down your child’s immune system and make them vulnerable to this illness
  • Confined spaces - living in small group and confined settings can also increase the risks of getting this disease
  • Smoking - parental smoking affects the development of the baby and makes them prone to such diseases.


Adequate nutrition and proper vaccination can make your child’s immune system stronger. Practicing good hygiene and addressing the environmental factors properly can grant your child immunity.

Treatment of Pneumonia in Children | When to Consult a Doctor

Diagnosis is usually dependent on the extent of the illness. Based on your condition, your general physician may diagnose your disease by simply asking about your medical history and a physical examination or ask for some tests. These tests may include:

  • Chest X-ray - chest rays help the doctors to analyze the lung’s performance.
  • Blood Test - some blood test to check for any infection
  • Sputum Culture - a diagnostic test is performed on the substance that is coughed up or sneezed through the lungs. This sputum culture also helps to establish the likelihood of the disease.
  • Pulse Oximeter - this small machine is used to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.
  • Chest CT Scan - CT scan of the chest can also be used for diagnostics purposes.
  • Bronchoscopy - this procedure is used to look inside the lung airways.
  • Pleural fluid culture - in this procedure, a fluid sample is taken from the space between the lungs and chest wall. This sample is used to identify the bacteria causing pneumonia.

Doctors to treat Pneumonia in Children

Last updated on Friday 21/10/2022


Dr. Syed Noman Matloob

Interventional Radiologist, General Physician |

Lahore Consultants ClinicRs


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Highly Recommended


Dr. Muhammad Asif Siddiqui

Pediatrician | MBBS, FCPS , FCPS(Neonatal Medicine),PGPN, IPPN,CHPE , CHR

National Hospital & Medical CenterRs 2000


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Satisfaction Rate



Highly recommended. Very good doctor


Dr. Shahid Aslam

Neonatologist, Pediatrician | MBBS , MRCP , MRCPCH

Doctors HospitalRs 2500


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Satisfaction Rate



Highly Recommended

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