Airhawk's Health Corner with Dr. @drepo15 - 2 (PNEUMONIA IN CHILDREN)
As promised topics will be derived from comments dropped by users on each post.
Today we'll be looking at the issue raised by @aderonkemi
Pneumonia is simply an infection of the lungs by bacteria or viruses, leading to closure of the air sacs in the lungs where gaseous exchange take place.
Pneumonia affects humans of all ages but i'm giving particular attention to children as it causes most deaths amongst that age group, the UNICEF estimates 3 million deaths of children every year from pneumonia. Usually these deaths are seen in children with other co-existing diseases like congenital heart diseases, low immune states seen in HIV, Tuberculosis etc and chronic lung diseases of premature children. In 3rd world nations like Nigeria where i practice IGNORANCE and poor attitude to health by parents are also major causes.
As defined above it is an infection caused by bacteria or viruses which can be transmitted directly to the lungs (after bypassing the child's normal defense mechanisms) or from another site through the blood stream (e.g. measles). It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to an unborn child giving rise to a particular form seen in children within 24 hours of birth (congenital pneumonia).
It is important to note here that cold doesn't necessarily cause pneumonia as popularly believed.
The specific bacteria and viral causes were left out, so i don't bore you with highfalutin jargons.
These arise from a derangement of the normal gas exchange of the lungs caused by the infection. There is a reduction in the number of available air sacs, so the child struggles to breathe and seeing how common and deadly pneumonia is, it is important that symptoms are not taken for granted.
Symptoms vary in different age groups as follows
Neonates (children 0 - 30 days old)
They are irritable (i.e. the crying excessively and inconsolable) and don't feed well. Fast breathing, noisy breathing and chest retractions may also be seen. These children are too young to cough.
Infants (children between 1 month to 1 year)
These kids have cough as the most common symptom along with fast breathing, chest retraction , also fever (high body temperature), irritability and decreased feeding.
have similar smptoms with infants but also have headache, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, vague abdominal pain and sore throat.
There is a gamut of investigations done ranging from blood work to radiologic investigations and this is the bane of a doctor's training, so i'll leave it at this as they already know what to do.
Pneumonia as said already is a killer and hardly responds to self prescription or over the counter drugs, so its important to take the child with the symptoms above for proper treatment. The child may be admitted depending on the severity of the illness with intravenous infusions, antibiotics and Oxygen administered. However the outcome is usually good if the child comes early enough.
As the popular saying goes prevention is better than cure and it's no less true in this subject. This is achieved by avoiding infectious contacts especially people with chronic cough and more importantly vaccination, which is the primary mode of prevention. Pneumonia vaccine has been included in the Pentavalent vaccine given to children routinely,
Childhood illnesses are painfully ignored and these children find it impossible to vocally say what's wrong and have to suffer for the negligence of care givers. Having said that, the outcome (prognosis) of childhood pneumonia is very good if properly handled and no child need die from pneumonia and my aim here is to bring about an awareness and help care givers to promptly identify symptoms and seek proper health care for children thereby avoiding unnecessary and avoidable death of children.
Remember to ask your questions in the comment section below and you also get a chance to decide the next topic. The ailment with the most mention will be discussed in the subsequent post. If what you have in mind has been mentioned you can add your comment below it.
Let's keep the ball rolling.
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