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Pneumonia in Children: How to Recognize and Tackle at Home

THUrsday - 20/02/2014 22:57
Pneumonia in Children: How to Recognize and Tackle at Home

Pneumonia in Children: How to Recognize and Tackle at Home

Pneumonia in Children: How to Recognize and Tackle at Home
I. Importance of Recognizing Pneumonia in Children
- Acute respiratory infections (ARI ) is the most common disease in children , especially children who are 5 years old . It is estimated that each year a child under 5 years of age can suffer from 3-8 times ARI .
- In most cases , the disease may go away within 5-7 days if properly treated. However, in approximately one third of the cases, the disease progresses to pneumonia. And should be treated carefully by giving children appropriate antibiotics to avoid serious complications, even death .
- Due to many circumstances and for various reasons, in the developing countries, including Vietnam, there are still quite a lot of children under age 5 who die of pneumonia . The World Health Organization ( WHO ) said nearly 13 million children under age 5 die annually worldwide, of which 4.3 million children die from ARI which is mainly pneumonia .
- So there are an estimated 10,000 deaths per day. In Vietnam, there are an estimated 20,000 children under 5 years of age who die from pneumonia each year.
- So one can say that there are three main causes of death  for children in the developing world : pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition .
- So how can we detect and treat pneumonia soon to stop the growing mortality of chidren? This is a major concern of parents as well as the health sector .
II . How to detect the early stage of lung inflammation?
- Three big questions we need to answer are:
      1 . How to be able to detect early stage of pneumonia in children?
      2 . How to know when to hospitalize a child with severe case of pneumonia?
      3 . What are the signs that a child is dangerously ill and should be brought to the hospital immediately ?
- WHO has researched and found the ways to be very simple and easy to apply at home .
1 . How to be able to detect early stage of pneumonia in children ?

- When a child has pneumonia, their lungs harden and they can not easily be expanded. So as the child breathes, the resulting lack of oxygen can cause problems. So the child has to breathe faster to compensate for this deficiency.
- Based on scientific research from many parts of the world , the World Health Organization has found that rapid breathing is an early symptom that appears when children have pneumonia. This early sign can be detected by listening to the lungs using a stethoscope. This symptom is easy to spot at any time by using a second hand watch.
- We can count a child's breathing during an entire minute to see whether or not the child has fast breathing . A child is breathing fast when :
• Respiratory rate is from 60 beats/minute in children older than 2 months .
• 50 beats/min or more in children aged 2-11 months .
• 40 beats/min or more in children 12 months - 5 years old .
When that child has symptoms of pneumonia, they should be brought to the health facility clinic and should be treated immediately.
- The best way to check a child's breathing is when they're lying down while asleep.
2 . Signs of pneumonia
- As severe pneumonia progresses , the lungs lose their soft characteristic and can become hard as children struggle to breathe.
- So when they show signs of breathing that leads to concave chest, this means they have severe pneumonia. This requires hospitalization immediately .
- To accurately recognize these signs, we need to lift the child high up, roll up their shirt chest area and observe their breathing while they're resting, not when they're eating or crying.
3. Signs of Danger
When the signs that your child is in critical condition appear and their lives are threatened, take the child to the hospital immediately for emergency treatment to save their young lives. Apply this not only for pneumonia cases but also in many other severe diseases.
Signs of danger:
- In children under 2 months old: loss of appetite, lethargy, diffifulty walking up, colds, fever or wheezing .
- In children 2 months - 5 years old: the child can not drink at all, convulsions , lethargy - difficulty waking up, hissing breath, and severe malnutrition .
III . How to Care for a Child with Pneumonia at Home

- When the lungs become inflamed, they can be treated at home . Four things are needed to be done:
      1 . Give your child appropriate antibiotics.
      2 . Treat the accompanying symptoms: fever, wheezing .
      3 . Know how to care for your child at home .
      4. Know when to take the child to a clinic for re-examination and when the case becomes severe. 
1 . The most important thing to cure children from pneumonia is proper medication of antibiotics. Upon the prescription of a physician, parents need to be aware of the proper ways to drink the medicine such as the number of drinks per day and number of days needed for medication. For pills, crush the tablet before a child drinks it (you can opt to put the tablet in a little water, wait for a few minutes until the tablet softens and becomes easier to crush) . It can be added with some sugar , mixed with a little milk so they can drink more easily. If the child vomits within 30 minutes after ingestion, let the child drink another dose .
      However, avoid overuse of antibiotics especially when they only have colds common cough. There can be immediate side effects or drug resistance in the long term. It has been demonstrated that the overuse of antibiotics will not be able to prevent pulmonary complications in children.
2. Physicians may also suggest other drugs such as as antipyretics (paracetamol), wheezing drugs (salbutamol, Trebutaline) . Children need to drink exactly as directed even though the drug is relatively safe for children.
3 . How to take care of children at home

- It is necessary to strengthen a child's appetite and breastfeeding. Avoid fasting practices. Children need enough food. Feed them regularly when sick . When a child has recovered well, parents still need to take care of them more to restore their health quickly. Young children with the stuffy nose will have more difficulty eating. So we need to clear their nose for them to breastfeed and eat more easily.
- It is necessary for your a child to drink plenty of water or to enhance breastfeeding. This is very important in order to dilute the phlegm, soothe the throat, to suppress the cough of children with pneumonia.
- Note that children with ARI tend to cough as a beneficial reflex to extort out phlegm. Help clear the airways for children so they can breathe easily. Do not abuse drugs to inhibit coughing. This is an important reminder especially now when there are many cough medicines that can cause poisoning and severe side effects in children if not used properly. In fact if you use the appropriate antibiotics to treat pneumonia, it will help reduce cough quickly. However, when the cough is causing difficulty and discomfort on the child such as nausea, insomnia, chest pain, and sore throat, then we can give the child safe cough medicine. WHO and the Ministry of Health recommend using herbs, fruits or vegetables like blueberries, honey , ginger. The cough medicine like SIROP Astex (used in a Hospital in Nhi Dong 1) and SIROP Pectol E which is composed of a herbal component can also be used for children.
4 . The Problems during Re-examination
- Follow-up visits by appointment : Children should be examined by a doctor after 2 days to assess whether antibiotics are effective or not . Even if the child's breathing returned to normal, the fever disappeared, and their appetite has returned, the child still needs to continue taking the oral antibiotics for 5 days.
- 2 days after the re-examination, if the child is breathing fast, the pediatrician would use an antibiotic or other necessary treatment to hospitalize the child.
- Always remember to immediately admit a child to a medical facility or hospital if the child has difficulty breathing (breathing faster and stronger, concave chest breathing ), the child can not drink water and when they become more tired. These are the signs that a child's illness has become severe, requiring hospitalization immediately.
V. Conclusion

- Pneumonia is a common illness in children under 5 years of age which if not detected or treated early the right way can lead to a child's death. 
- We can summarize detection and treatment at the following location :
      1 . Children with dangerous signs - very severe disease, hospital emergency
      2 . Children concave chest breathing - severe pneumonia, requiring hospitalization immediately
      3 . Children breathing faster - intake of antibiotics at home, requires enhancing of food intake, cough medicine.
- This is the most basic ARI regimen outlined by WHO in 1990. It is being widely applied in the developing countries and has proven to be effective on a global scale. People who has properly followed the simple steps mentioned above has helped reduce 50% of pneumonia deaths, rescued around 600,000 children under 5 years of age each year to avoid the danger of worldwide pneumonia.
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