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Pneumonia In Children


Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. Often, pneumonia begins after an infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). This causes fluid to collect in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Children who have a hard time fighting infections or have lung problems are more likely to develop pneumonia.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


The risks of serious illness or death are small if you follow your child's caregiver's advice. If left untreated, pneumonia can be life-threatening.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


Your child may be in isolation if he has an infection or disease that he can spread to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands before and after visiting your child.


Caregivers may give your child the following kinds of medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antivirals help treat or prevent a viral infection.

  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines are given to decrease your child's pain and fever. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.


  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your child's lungs and heart. A chest x-ray may be used to check your child's heart, lungs, and chest wall. It can help caregivers diagnose your child's symptoms, or suggest or monitor treatment for medical conditions.

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your child's foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

  • Sputum culture: Sputum (spit) from your child's lungs is collected in a special cup when your child coughs. If your child cannot or is too young to cough, the sputum may need to be suctioned out. It is sent to a lab for tests. The sputum may show what germ is causing your child's illness. It can also help your caregiver choose what medicine is best for your child.

Respiratory care:

  • Breathing treatments: Your child may need breathing treatments to help open his airways so he can breathe easier. A machine may be used to help your child breathe in medicine. A caregiver helps your child with these treatments.

  • Chest physiotherapy: This is also called CPT. This is used to loosen up the mucus in the lungs and help your child breathe easier. A caregiver will tap over your child's ribs (chest, back, and side). A caregiver may use a special rubber cup or his hand for CPT. CPT can be used with postural drainage to help loosen up the fluid. Once the fluid is loosened, your child may need to cough it up. If your child cannot cough it up, a caregiver may need to suction it out.

  • Your child may need extra oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • Postural drainage: This help loosen mucus in your child's lungs. A caregiver will usually lay your child in 4 to 6 different positions. This may be done 3 to 4 times a day. The fluid will then drain to the upper part of your child's lungs. A caregiver may also do CPT and then have your child cough up the fluid and spit it out. If your child cannot cough up the fluid, a caregiver may need to suction the fluid out. Your child may need lung medicine before postural drainage to help with the drainage.

  • Suction: This is a small tube that is placed in your child's mouth or nose. This tube will help suck out the mucus in your child's mouth, nose, and lungs. This can help your child breathe easier. Your child may need suction more than once to make sure all of the mucus is out.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pneumonia In Children (Inpatient Care)