What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia means an acute infection takes place in the substance of the lung. Yes, severe symptoms can occur. Even though antibiotics have revolutionized the outlook in most cases, it is still a disease that needs prompt and efficient treatment.
These include a fairly sudden rising fever and possibly chills and shivering. Breathing becomes rapid, the heart races, and there may be a cough and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. There may be neck stiffness, and sometimes convulsions occur. There may be chest pains with breathing, indicating that the pleura, the lining of the lungs are also involved. Sometimes there are abdominal pains as well. As the illness advances, the child is pale and may be bluish, prostrate and restless. A wheezy noise may be present with breathing, and the patient is obviously very ill. Breathing may be difficult, and on breathing out there may be a grunting sound, with cheeks flushed, nostrils dilated in the battle to get enough air. The infection is often caused by a virus, but there are usually many other bacteria that climb aboard and manage to play a part also.
Medical treatment as a matter of urgency is the obvious answer. Most mothers can obviously see if their child is ill and becoming worse. The sooner the child with serious symptoms is admitted to hospital, the better. Any form of breathing difficulty needs expert attention and nursing. X-rays will show the extent of the infection, and other tests will indicate the most appropriate form of therapy.
In today’s world, it is highly likely that antibiotics will be given very early on and the full course of the disease aborted before it is fully established. Times and treatments change. This is right. Unless treatment is given, disaster is still a likely outcome. The young children are especially at risk, as they are with nearly any infection. There is still a significant mortality rate, especially with babies in the six to eight week age group.
The advent of the antibiotics saw a major change in treatment and, fortunately, a major improvement in the once depressingly high mortality figures. Nevertheless, one should never overlook the risk factors with any disorder involving the breathing system.