We celebrate 12th November as World Pneumonia Day.
We have heard the word ‘pneumonia’ being used in a humorous vein in the movie ‘Chupke Chupke’ when Dharmendra tries to ask why the pneumonia is pronounced as ‘nimonia’ and spelled as beginning with a ‘p’.
But how many of you know what pneumonia actually is.
Let us take a look.
What is it?
Pneumonia is an inflammation or infection involving the lungs or its lining.
Childhood pneumonia is the leading single cause of mortality in children aged less than 5 years.
151 million episodes are seen in the developing world out of which 43 million are in India.
Lack of exclusive breastfeeding, under-nutrition, indoor air pollution, low birth weight, crowding and lack of measles immunization.
Bacterial-common are Streptococcus pneumonia, Hemophilus influenza and atypical organisms like Mycoplasma pneumonia.
Viral -Respiratory syncytial virus(RSV), Influenza and Para-influenza virus or Adenovirus.
Fungal- normally affect immune-compromised people like those suffering from diseases like HIV, etc.
In mild cases it could just be a simple cough and fever.
As the severity of pneumonia increases it could lead to higher grade fever, increasing cough which may lead to breathlessness, difficulty in sucking at the breast.
In addition, the child may get other general symptoms like irritability, loss of appetite, fussiness or lethargy.
If the child really starts having poor oral intake the child could also get dehydrated.
There are tests available to pin-point the cause, but those are expensive.
Your doctor could diagnose either after examination or by conducting blood tests or a chest x-ray.
In the milder cases, the doctor may start the child on oral antibiotics and symptomatic treatment for fever.
In severe cases, the child may require admission for supportive therapy like intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, intravenous antibiotics, oxygen, nebulisation, etc depending on the condition of the child.
The best way to reduce the burden of the disease could be vaccination.
Vaccination against pneumococcal bacteria, Hemophilus influenza and flu could help reduce the severity and frequency of pneumonia.
Maintain good hygiene.
Avoid sending infected children in public places like schools and day care.
Seek treatment early to prevent severe cases.
Remember, “Prevention is better than cure”