First thing to know: pneumonia in babies can be super stressful. BUT, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, it’s also treatable. If you think that your baby has pneumonia, get in touch with your healthcare provider as soon as you can. There’s help available.
In this article: 📝
- What is pneumonia in babies?
- How do I know if my baby has pneumonia?
- How do babies get pneumonia?
- Is pneumonia in babies serious?
- How is pneumonia in babies treated?
- How long does it take for a baby to get over pneumonia?
- How to prevent pneumonia in babies
What is pneumonia in babies?
Pneumonia is an infection of your lungs’ air sacs that causes them to fill up with fluid and/or pus, making it difficult for oxygen to get where it needs to go.
How do I know if my baby has pneumonia?
Pneumonia symptoms in babies can be more subtle than adult symptoms. Here are some of the possible signs of pneumonia in babies:
- A mucus-producing cough
- Very fast breathing and/or trouble taking in air
- Pain when coughing
- Not wanting to feed
- Flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, chills, and fatigue
How do babies get pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a secondary illness, meaning that it develops as a result of another illness. The other illness could be a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite. Pneumonia in babies can start as a cold or the flu.
The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia tend to come on more quickly—a sudden high fever and rapid breathing often being the biggest tell-tale signs.
Viral pneumonia often develops more gradually out of a cold, flu, or other illness.
If your baby is between three weeks and three months old, pneumonia is more likely to be caused by a bacterial infection. The most common culprit is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This bacteria can cause a bunch of other illnesses, from sinusitis to meningitis.
Another kind of pneumonia in babies comes from chlamydia. This usually happens really early on (before they’re two months old). Chlamydial pneumonia can also cause pink eye.
If your baby has a weakened immune system and/or has other pre-existing conditions such as asthma, they may be more susceptible to pneumonia. It also might be harder for them to fight it off. Babies who are around smokers are also more prone to developing pneumonia.
Is pneumonia in babies serious?
Pneumonia in babies can be serious—but while it used to be very dangerous, it has become less and less so. That’s because we now know how to treat it. If your baby gets pneumonia, they should be able to recover from it if they get the medical attention they need.
How is pneumonia in babies treated?
Pneumonia in babies is treated with antibiotics or antiviral medicine—and a lot of TLC. Basically, they’ll need a whole lot of rest and a whole lot of fluids.
They may also need medication to help them out with coughs and flu symptoms—but it’s very important to talk to your doctor before giving them anything. The FDA does not approve over-the-counter cough meds for use in children younger than two years.
If your baby is very sick, they might have to go to the hospital. If this is the case, they may be given their antibiotics and fluids through a drip. They may also need oxygen therapy. In very serious cases, they might have to go to the ICU.
How long does it take for a baby to get over pneumonia?
That all depends on what caused the pneumonia and how sick your baby gets. Some babies will take less than two weeks to get better. Most babies recover within about a month.
How to prevent pneumonia in babies
The good news is that there is a vaccine that goes a long way to protect children from Pneumococcal (bacterial) pneumonia. The CDC recommends that all children under the age of two get the vaccine. Definitely worth talking to your doctor about this if you haven’t done so already.
Having a sick child is seriously one of the most stressful experiences to go through. Reach out to your support network. Lean on your community. You don’t have to do this alone.