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Secondary Bacterial Infections – Pneumonia

In an earlier post, I discussed the care and management of cold symptoms, ear infections, and sinus infections. Now I will focus on the least common secondary bacterial infection seen with colds: bacterial pneumonia. What I will be discussing is a different illness with different treatment than viral pneumonia.

Bacterial pneumonia is an infection caused by bacteria present in the lungs that lead to inflammation. Worsening cough or fits of coughing along with high fevers over 101 degrees or fevers for more than 5 days are the most common symptoms. Your child may also have some difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, or shortness of breath. Infants and toddlers may have a difficult time eating while older children may have chest pain that worsens with deep breaths.

If you are concerned about pneumonia, bring your child to their pediatrician. Only a physical exam performed where your doctor listens to your child’s lungs can diagnose bacterial pneumonia. If you ever notice any blueness around the kissing part of your child’s lips, bring them in for evaluation immediately! This may mean that your child’s lungs are unable to exchange oxygen adequately.

In most instances, bacterial pneumonia will be treated with antibiotics. Some children with bacterial pneumonia may require hospitalization for various reasons. Your doctor will help decide what the best treatment course for your child.

An important point to remember is the value of immunization in preventing pneumonia. During your child’s regularly scheduled immunizations, they receive vaccines for certain bacteria that are known for causing severe pneumonia. Since these immunizations were introduced, the number of cases of pneumonia caused by these bacteria and the severity of the disease has decreased significantly in children younger than 2 years old. So remember to get your child immunized!

Important points to remember about bacterial pneumonia complicating a cold:

  • The first signs of bacterial pneumonia will be worsening cough, spells of daytime coughing, and worsening fevers (over 101 degrees or for more than 5 days)
  • Bring your child in for evaluation if you notice blueness around the kissing part of the lips, labored breathing, pallor, or increasingly sick appearance
  • If antibiotics are prescribed, be sure that your child completes the entire course
  • Many children with bacterial pneumonia will require hospitalization
  • Remember to get your child immunized to help protect against serious pneumonia and their complications
Haley Pledger, PA
Women’s Care
Matthew Walton, DO
Austin Bills, DO
Family Medicine
Aaron Fausett, PA
Family Medicine
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