Pneumonia is an infection deep in the small airways and air sacs of the lungs. The infection will make the air sacs swell and fill with fluid or pus. This causes intense coughing and can make it hard to breathe.
This article will focus on community-acquired pneumonia. It is the type that is spread in community places such as home, school, or daycare.
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Pneumonia is caused by a germ in the air that you breathe. Germs that most often cause community-acquired pneumonia include:
Pneumonia is more common in children under the age of 5 years.
Other things that may increase your child’s chance of pneumonia include:
Pneumonia may cause:
Children may also:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect pneumonia based on the exam. Blood and coughed fluids may be tested. These test are not always needed.
Images of the lungs may be taken with:
Treatment will be based on what germ caused the infection and the child's overall health. More support may be needed if there is a severe infection. A hospital stay may be needed if it becomes difficult to breathe.
Treatment options may include:
Oxygen may need to be given for severe infections. This will help to increase the level of oxygen in the blood.
A hospital stay may be needed if:
Treatments in the hospital may include:
A hospital stay may also be needed for children with weaker immune systems.
Vaccines may help to prevent certain pneumonia. Vaccine schedules for children include:
Some children may have a higher risk of pneumonia. Medicine may be given to these children after a cold or the flu to help prevent pneumonia.
To decrease your child’s risk of any airway infection:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Bradley JS, Byington CL, et al. The management of community-acquired pneumonia in infants and children older than 3 months of age: clinical practice guidelines by the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Oct;53(7):e25-76.
Community-acquired pneumonia in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/community-acquired-pneumonia-in-children. Accessed August 23, 2020.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Accessed August 23, 2020.
Gereige RS, Laufer PM. Pneumonia. Pediatr Rev. 2013 Oct;34(10):438-456.
Haq IJ, Battersby AC, et al. Community acquired pneumonia in children. BMJ. 2017 Mar 2;356:j686.
Pneumonia. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/lung/pneumonia.html. Accessed August 23, 2020.
Pneumonia. WHO website. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs331/en/. Accessed August 23, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC Last Updated: 12/8/2020