I have a very active 3-year-old who runs from sunup to sundown. This past week, he was hit with a bad cold. Or, at least I thought it was a bad cold—it left him with very little energy, fever, cough and no appetite.
Concerned about his terrible cough and high fever, I took him to the doctor. To my surprise, my 3-year-old had pneumonia. I was not very familiar with the condition because I assumed pneumonia was something seniors got in the middle of winter, not 3-year-olds in July.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, defines pneumonia as “an infection in one or both of the lungs,” which can be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi. The infection in the lung inflames the lung's air sacs called alveoli. This causes fluid or pus to fill the lung, possibly causing a cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath or trouble breathing and a fast heartbeat. You can also experience fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.
Treatment for pneumonia depends on how severe your condition is and what your doctor recommends. You can treat pneumonia with antibiotics. If your pneumonia is viral based, you may be prescribed antiviral medicine. You can also use fever reducers and cough suppressants to treat some of the other symptoms associated with pneumonia. In severe cases, some patients may need to be hospitalized especially if they are over 65, experience confusion, a drop in blood pressure, have rapid breathing or need breathing assistance with oxygen.
It’s important to note that these symptoms are also similar to the flu, bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and tuberculosis. If you suspect you or a loved one might have pneumonia, be sure to get checked out by a medical professional instead of self-diagnosing.