Bug of the Month: Pneumonia

Technical Names: Pneumonitis

NickNames: Pneumonia, Lung Infection

What it is: infection of the lung

Typical Ages for Illness: Any

Typical Symptoms: cough, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, decreased activity level and appetite, respiratory symptoms including shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, grunting or wheezing sound, breathing fast. Chest pain common when coughing a lot. Some children with more serious signs of respiratory distress will look gray or blue around the mouth.

Etiology: Many different germs can cause this including viruses, bacteria, fungus. Viruses are the most common pathogen for all ages.

Seasonal Issues: Can occur year round but more common in winter months

How’s It Spread? Person to person by direction contact with respiratory secretions – getting coughed or sneezed on, touching an object that was coughed or sneezed on.

Incubation Period: Develops 1 to 6 days after the onset of a viral infection like a cold or flu.

Diagnosis: Some cases of pneumonia can be diagnosed by the physical exam and others require a X-ray.

Symptom Duration:Before treatment, pneumonias are preceded by a bad cold or flu-like illness.  Once treatment starts, the cough can take 1-2 weeks to improve.


  • antibiotics may be needed
  • +/- breathing treatments such as inhalers or nebulizers
  • fluids
  • rest
  • tylenol or motrin for fever and discomfort
  • in cases of severe pneumonia, some kids do need to be hospitalized

Call Your Pediatrician if your child has:

  • high fever, or fever not gone in 2-3 days
  • vomiting or diarrhea and can’t hydrate well
  • lethargy
  • sick appearance
  • trouble breathing despite treatment
  • blue or gray color to lips or fingernail beds


  • stay home if sick
  • good hand washing
  • having the child cover his or her mouth when coughing, if possible
  • cleaning toys and objects likely contaminated by respiratory droplets

School and After school Activity Issues

  • may return to school when fever free for 24hours and able to eat and drink normally
  • avoid large groups of kids if cough is not controlled to prevent further spread
  • if on antibiotics, needs to be on them for 24 hours before returning to school
  • activities should be curtailed until the child has the energy to participate without becoming winded or fatigued.

Internet Resources:

For Parents

KIDS Health Info on pneumonia

For Kids and Teens

KidsHealth Pneumonia Info for kids

KidsHealth Pneumonia Info For Teens

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