pneumonia in children:
the symptoms and when to act

Pneumonia can affect little ones of all ages. It's worth knowing the facts, so you can act quickly if your baby or child does ever catch it.

how can i tell if my baby has pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects breathing, and it's often caused by a virus or bacteria. It can be hard to tell the difference between a bad cold and pneumonia; if your little one has a cough, is producing mucus, isn't eating and is generally unwell, take them to see the doctor. The infection can come on very quickly over a couple of days or gradually over a week.

should i take my baby to A&E?

In some cases, it might be necessary for your baby to visit A&E to get the best treatment possible. These are the symptoms to look out for:

  • bringing up yellow or blood-stained mucus when they cough
  • breathing is rapid or shallow
  • their lips or fingernails are blue
  • baby has a fever
  • they're wheezing as they breath
  • they've refused more than half of their usual fluids in 24 hours

how is pneumonia diagnosed?

If you notice symptoms of pneumonia, take your baby to see the doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will listen to their breathing to check for fluid in the lungs. They may need to X-ray your baby's chest to check their lungs and they might do a blood test to see if the infection is viral or bacterial.

how is pneumonia treated?

In most cases, pneumonia can be treated at home with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Make sure your baby gets lots of rest and drinks plenty of liquid. In more severe cases, your little one might need treatment in hospital so that they can be monitored for sepsis. Hospital treatment will ensure that they get plenty of fluids and oxygen while the infection passes. 

can i prevent my baby from getting pneumonia?

There are a few ways you can reduce your baby's chance of getting pneumonia. The PCV vaccine protects against meningitis and septicaemia as well as pneumonia, and your child should be given this as part of their routine jabs. Making sure your baby's environment is smoke-free is another easy way to prevent infection. Cigarette smoke can also lead to colds, asthma and ear infections.