How To Recognize Pneumonia Symptoms In Kids

child sick

Cold and flu season is ramping up, which means that parents all over the country will be dealing with runny noses, coughs, and fevers for the next few months. Hopefully by now, you and your family have gotten your flu shots, and reduced your risk of contracting the flu virus. But unfortunately, there's no vaccine for the common cold, and in the fall and winter months, it spreads like wildfire, especially among kids! While it's certainly hard to see your kiddos not feeling their best, colds are generally not serious, and will go away in 5-7 days.

However, common colds can easily be mistaken for a much more serious illness.

Pneumonia can occur at any time of year, but like colds, it tends to be more common in the colder months. Pneumonia symptoms can mimic a cold in the beginning, which is why a lot of parents may ignore or overlook those symptoms early on. It's so important to be able to recognize the early signs of pneumonia, as the illness requires medical attention (and the sooner, the better!).

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Pneumonia is very common, affecting nearly 155 million kids under the age of five worldwide every year. It can be treated effectively, but can be incredibly dangerous and even deadly if left untreated. What makes it so difficult to spot is that pneumonia can seem like a common chest cold. But whereas a chest cold will get better on its own, pneumonia does not, and will worsen without medical treatment.

child sick
Credit: iStock / kozorog

The symptoms of pneumonia in babies and young kids are subtle. They usually include the combination of fever and a cough. But you should look out for some other symptoms. Kids may have difficulty breathing or be breathing faster prior to the cough. And infants may have trouble feeding or be restless and fussy. Trouble breathing can mean noisy breathing (think wheezing or grunting), straining to breathe with lots of movement in the chest and tummy, very rapid breathing, or flared nostrils when trying to breathe.

Additionally, a cold that seems to get worse or doesn't get better, or a cold that suddenly develops into a fever may be signs that you need to have your child examined by a doctor to rule out pneumonia.

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