Skip to Content

Pneumonia in Children


Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Viruses are usually the cause of pneumonia in children. Children with viral pneumonia can also develop bacterial pneumonia. 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. Pneumonia can also develop if something such as food or stomach acid is inhaled into the lungs.

The Lungs


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.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give medicine or liquids.


  • Antibiotics may be given if your child's pneumonia is caused by bacteria.
  • Antivirals may be given if your child's pneumonia is caused by a virus.


  • Blood tests are done to find out the cause of your child's pneumonia.
  • A chest x-ray may be done to show the location of pneumonia and if treatment is working.
  • A pulse oximeter will monitor your child's oxygen level. It will let healthcare providers know if your child needs extra oxygen.
  • A sputum culture is done by getting a sample of sputum (spit) from your child's lungs. The sputum is collected in a 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 healthcare provider choose what medicine is best for your child.


  • 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.
  • Breathing treatments may be needed to help open your child's airways so he or she can breathe easier. A machine may be used to help your child breathe in medicine. Healthcare providers will help your child with these treatments.
  • Airway clearance techniques may be needed to loosen up the mucus in your child's lungs and help him or her breathe easier. Once mucus is loosened, your child will be able to cough it up and spit it out. Suction may be used if your child is not able to cough the mucus up or spit it out.


Pneumonia can cause damage to your child's lungs. If left untreated, pneumonia can become life-threatening.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.