How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. The air sacs in the lungs (called alveoli) fill up with pus and other fluid. This makes it hard for oxygen to reach the bloodstream.

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Someone with pneumonia may have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing.

What

very fast breathing (in some cases, this is the only symptom)
breathing with grunting or wheezing sounds
working hard to breathe; this can include flaring of the nostrils, belly breathing, or movement of the muscles between the ribs
fever
cough
stuffy nose
shaking chills
vomiting
chest pain
belly pain (because a child is coughing and working hard to breathe)
less activity
loss of appetite (in older kids) or poor feeding (in infants), which may lead to dehydration
in extreme cases, bluish or gray color of the lips and fingernails
If the pneumonia is in the lower part of the lungs near the abdomen, a person might have a fever and belly pain or vomiting with no breathing problems.

What Causes Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is caused by a variety of germs (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites). Most cases, though, are caused by viruses. These include adenoviruses, rhinovirus, influenza virus (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and parainfluenza virus (which also can cause croup).How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

Often, pneumonia begins after an upper respiratory tract infection (an infection of the nose and throat), with symptoms starting after 2 or 3 days of a cold or sore throat. It then moves to the lungs. Fluid, white blood cells, and debris start to gather in the air spaces of the lungs and block the smooth passage of air, making it harder for the lungs to work well.

Kids with pneumonia caused by bacteria usually become sick fairly quickly, starting with a sudden high fever and unusually fast breathing.

Kids with pneumonia caused by viruses probably will have symptoms that appear more gradually and are less severe, though wheezing can be more common.

Some symptoms give important clues about which germ is causing the pneumonia. For example:

In older kids and teens, pneumonia due to Mycoplasma (also called walking pneumonia) is very common. It causes a sore throat, headache, and rash in addition to the usual symptoms of pneumonia.
In babies, pneumonia due to chlamydia may cause conjunctivitis (pinkeye) with only mild illness and no fever.
When pneumonia is due to whooping cough (pertussis), a child may have long coughing spells, turn blue from lack of air, or make the classic “whoop” sound when trying to take a breath. Fortunately, the pertussis vaccine can help protect kids against whooping cough.
The length of time between exposure to the germ and when someone starts feeling sick varies, depending on which germ caused the pneumonia (for instance, 4 to 6 days for RSV, but just 18 to 72 hours for the flu).

How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed?
Doctors usually make a pneumonia diagnosis after an exam. They’ll check a child’s appearance, breathing pattern, and vital signs, and listen to the lungs for abnormal sounds. They might order a chest X-ray or blood tests, but neither are necessary to make the diagnosis.

How Is Pneumonia Treated?How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay
In most cases, pneumonia is caused by a virus that does not require antibiotics. Pneumonia caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics taken by mouth at home. The type of antibiotic used depends on the type of bacteria thought to have caused the pneumonia.

Antiviral medicine is now available too, but is reserved for the flu when found early in the course of illness.

Children might need treatment in a hospital if the pneumonia causes a lasting high fever, breathing problems, or if they:

need oxygen therapy
have a lung infection that may have spread to the bloodstream
have a chronic illness that affects the immune system
are vomiting so much that they cannot take medicine by mouth
keep getting pneumonia
might have whooping cough
Hospital treatment can include intravenous (IV) antibiotics (given into a vein) and respiratory therapy (breathing treatments). More severe cases might be treated in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Why Childhood Immunizations Are Important
Childhood vaccines or immunizations can seem overwhelming when you are a new parent. Vaccine schedules recommended by agencies and organizations, such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians cover about 14 different diseases.How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

Vaccinations not only protect your child from deadly diseases, such as polio, tetanus, and diphtheria, but they also keep other children safe by eliminating or greatly decreasing dangerous diseases that used to spread from child to child.

A vaccine is a dead, or weakened version, or part of the germ that causes the disease in question. When children are exposed to a disease in vaccine form, their immune system, which is the body’s germ-fighting machine, is able to build up antibodies that protect them from contracting the disease if and when they are exposed to the actual disease.

Over the years, vaccines have generated some controversy over safety, but no convincing evidence of harm has been found. And although children can have a reaction to any vaccine, the important thing to know is that the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the possible side effects.

Keeping track of immunizations
Most of your child’s vaccinations are completed between birth and 6 years. Many vaccines are given more than once, at different ages, and in combinations. This means that you’ll need to keep a careful record of your child’s shots. Although your doctor’s office will also keep track, people change doctors, records get lost, and the person ultimately responsible for keeping track of your child’s immunizations is you.How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

Ask your child’s doctor for an immunization record form. Think about your child’s record as you would a birth certificate and keep it with your other essential documents. You can also download an easy-to-read immunization schedule and record form at the CDC website.

Even though most parents and doctors do a good job of keeping up with immunizations, studies show that about one-fourth of preschool children are missing at least one routine vaccination. Most states will not let your child start school without a complete immunization record. Sometimes a vaccination is missed when a child is sick. No matter what the reason, it’s important to make up missed immunizations.

If your child has missed an immunization, you don’t have to go back and start over for most vaccines. The previous immunizations are still good. Your doctor will just resume the immunization schedule. If, for any reason, your child receives additional doses of a vaccine, this is also not a concern, although your child will still need any future doses according to the recommended schedule.How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

How many shots do children need?
Although vaccines are combined to reduce the number of shots needed, the list is still long.

Here is a common immunization schedule recommended by age 2:

One vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)

Four vaccinations for Haemophilus influenza (Hib), a common upper respiratory infection that can also cause meningitis

Three to four polio vaccinations (IPV)

Four vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT)

Three vaccinations for hepatitis B

One vaccination for varicella (chickenpox) no earlier than age 12 months and only if your child does not develop chickenpox on his or her own (must be verified by a health care provider)

Three vaccinations for rotavirus, a type of infection that causes severe diarrhea

Four vaccinations for pneumococcal disease, a common cause of ear infections and pneumonia

From age 4 to 6, your child will need booster shots for DPT, IPV, MMR, and chickenpox. Children should also start receiving a yearly flu shot after age 6 months. A vaccination for hepatitis A is recommended for all children. This is a lot to keep track of and why you need an immunization records form.How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

Final tips on immunizations
Keep this information in mind to help your child’s immunizations go more smoothly:

Common side effects of immunizations include swelling at the site of the injection, soreness, and fever. Discuss these side effects with your doctor and ask what symptoms deserve an office call.

Ask your doctor’s office if it participates in an immunization registry. This is a source you can go to if your immunization records get lost.

Ask your doctor’s office if it has an immunization reminder or recall system. This type of system will call to remind you when immunizations are due and will warn you if an immunization has been missed.

Always bring your immunizations record with you to all of your child’s office visits and make sure the doctor signs and dates every immunization.How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

Vaccines are some of the safest and most effective medicines we have, and they have made many dangerous childhood diseases rare today. How to Keep Your Child From Contracting Pneumonia Essay

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