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Pneumonia definition

Pneumonia definition

Pneumonia definition

What is pneumonia? And can you really catch it from splashing in a rain puddle or hanging out in a soaking-wet sweatshirt? Keep reading to learn about pneumonia, what causes it, symptoms, definition and more.
Maybe your grandmother has said, "Get out of your wet clothes - you don't want to get pneumonia!"

What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia (say: new-mo-nya) is an infection of one or both lungs. When you breathe in, air rich with oxygen is pulled into your lungs. Healthy, normal lungs allow the oxygen you breathe in to pass through the air chambers of the lung called alveoli (say: al-vee-oh-lie) and into the blood. The oxygen then travels in the red blood cells to all parts of the body.
When you have pneumonia, fluid blocks the alveoli in your lungs. This makes it harder for oxygen to enter the lungs and pass through to the blood
·         Pneumonia can happen to people at any age, from tiny babies to older people.
·         Most people with pneumonia will feel sick.
·         They usually have faster breathing than usual or difficulty breathing. 
·         And may also have chest pain and fever.
·         Pneumonia can also make a person feel sick to his stomach or feel like not eating at all.

Pneumonia in kids

Although someone who has pneumonia can get really sick, the good news is that most of the time, kids with pneumonia get completely well. Why? Because most kids are healthy to start with so they are able to fight off serious infections like pneumonia.

Why Do Kids Get Pneumonia?

Bacterial infection

Getting wet doesn't cause pneumonia (sorry, Grandma) - but an infection from a bacteria or a virus does. Most of the time, if you get infected with a virus or bacteria, your body is able to fight it off with no problem. But sometimes it's a really nasty infection that even the healthiest kid has a hard time fighting off by himself.
Other times, kids may get pneumonia after they've already been sick for a while. An infection with a cold or flu virus can cause a kid's lungs to be irritated and inflamed. When the lungs are irritated, it's easier for bacterial germs to move in and cause pneumonia.
How Do I Know if I Have It?

Viral pneumonia

A kid with viral pneumonia might feel like he has the flu and might have a headache, fever, muscle aches, and a cough. Pneumonia often causes chest pain, too - and a feeling like you can't quite catch your breath.

Bacterial pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia can also make someone cough up phlegm (say: flem), gloppy mucus that is thick and green, dark yellow, or rust-colored. If you have pain in your chest when you take deep breaths or are coughing up globs of thick mucus, tell your mom or dad right away.
What Do Doctors Do?

Pneumonia treatment

The doctor will listen to your chest with a stethoscope (say: steh-the-scope). A stethoscope has a part that touches your chest and rubber tubes that run-up to the doctor's ears.

Chest X-ray

What's the doctor listening for? When the lungs have extra fluid in them (like they do with pneumonia), there are bubbling or crackling sounds called rales (say: rowls). A doctor may also order a chest X-ray, which will provide a picture of your lungs. This gives the doctor a quick peek inside of your body to see how your lungs look.
An X-ray may allow the doctor to actually see the pneumonia infection. Any buildup of fluid or infection often shows up as a cloudy, patchy white area in the usual see-through lung spaces on the X-ray.

Double pneumonia

You may have heard the terms "double pneumonia" or "walking pneumonia." If your doctor says that you have double pneumonia, it does not mean that you have a doubly bad case. It simply means that the infection is in both lungs. Cases of pneumonia often appear in both lungs - especially when the pneumonia is from a virus - so don't be worried!

Walking pneumonia

Walking pneumonia refers to cases of pneumonia that are not severe enough to land you in the hospital, or in many cases, not even bad enough for you to stay home from school. In other words, you can "walk" around but might not realize you have pneumonia.

Antibiotics for pneumonia

In the case of bacterial pneumonia, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics and watch a kid closely to make sure he or she is getting better. If a case of bacterial pneumonia is severe, a kid may need to get better in a hospital under the watchful eyes of doctors and nurses and receive antibiotics through a vein (blood vessel).
Viral pneumonia will go away on its own. Antibiotics can't help it go away because they only treat infections caused by bacteria, not viruses. To help make you feel better, though, a doctor may prescribe acetaminophen (say: ah-see-ta-mih-na-fen) or ibuprofen (say: eye-byoo-pro-fen) to relieve the symptoms of fever, aches, and pains.

Pneumonia medication

Doctors will sometimes prescribe medicines for the cough if it's keeping a kid up at night because rest is an important part of getting better. In cases of both viral and bacterial pneumonia, getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids is always recommended.


Although there is a vaccination against one form bacterial pneumonia called pneumococcal (say: new-mo-cock-al) pneumonia, the best way to avoid getting pneumonia is to avoid getting colds and the flu.

Pneumonia prevention

Getting a flu shot can also help guard against getting pneumonia, particularly in kids who have asthma or certain other lung conditions. Washing your hands with soap and water before you eat and after playing outside is always a good idea because this is the best way to kill the germs that can make you sick. Eating properly, getting enough rest, and not smoking (or being exposed to secondhand smoke) will keep your body strong and help you steer clear of pneumonia.
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