Five early symptoms of pneumonia parents must watch out for

Dr Jesal Sheth, a senior consultant, paediatric and neonatal Intensivist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, shares various symptoms an infant might display if he/she is infected with pneumonia and ways to prevent it

Five early symptoms of pneumonia parents must watch out for

For new parents, it is often difficult to comprehend and manage the health concerns their newborns. There are two factors to help deal with the illnesses in the infants; first is to understand the problem through knowledge, and the second is to stay calm and composed during the ordeal.

While it is difficult to understand the problem and put corrective steps on to practice during this phase, it is nevertheless the best way forward.

A relatively common issue in the newborns is the incidence of pneumonia. It occurs when a bacterial infection in one or both the lungs, causes inflammation; the air sacks are filled with fluid, making it difficult to breathe.

It may be present in different ways and show different signs at different times. Keeping yourself alert, and having adequate knowledge, will help you factor out the possibilities and risks. However, if these symptoms arise, it is wise to consult your doctor immediately.

Here are some of the signs of pneumonia in newborn babies to help prevent the illness from escalating:

An unpleasant fever: The baby may get fever due to many reasons. Generally, it passes on once the germs are fought off, strengthening their immunity over time.

Symptoms may include persistent fever, fever not getting relieved by medicines, high-grade fever, fever making baby very dull or lethargic, which indicate bad infection or infection that needs a paediatrician’s attention.

Fast breathing, accompanied by abnormal sounds like wheezing: It is common for a baby to have different rhythms of breathing throughout the day. Pneumonia is the disease of the lung, so, as the pneumonia progresses, the child will start breathing faster.

Some babies may develop wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound made while you breathe) cold weather can be one of the causes.

If pneumonia progresses, the breathing of babies or children can become laboured also. However, if wheezy breathing is consistent and does not go away within a few hours, it is worth seeing a doctor.

It is also crucial to keep a watch on flaring nostrils, as it could mean that there is an impact on the lungs as well.

Short, rapid and shallow breathing: Due to the fluid trapped in the Lungs, it becomes difficult to breathe. Shallow breathing is a bad sign in smaller children; mostly it is accompanied by a very dull baby or a child. It’s a medical emergency, rush to an ER.

Reluctance to feed: Smaller infants or children become very fussy and non-cooperative when it comes to eating during acute infection, but, if they drink less water, then it will make them prone to develop dehydration, and increase their weakness.

However, as a parent, it is crucial to keep a track on the eating schedule, even if your baby is asleep. If the baby is not eating and drinking, or becomes lethargic, or does not pass urine, or passes dark urine, it is a concern where the help of paediatrician should be sought, and the baby may need hospitalisation during acute febrile illness.

Abdomen retractions: Keep a close watch on your baby’s torso where the rib cage and abdomen meet. If there is a sucking motion when he breathes, also known as a retraction, this could mean that your baby has difficulty in breathing. These babies require hospitalisation.

Parents must be aware that there is no surety that a cold could be followed by pneumonia. However, taking a few steps to ensure the possibility is minimised is indeed always healthier. They are given below:

  • Ensure there is sufficient liquid intake like coconut water, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS)
  • Give medicine to reduce discomforts like prescribed fever medicines and cough syrups
  • Keep a watch on urine colour
  • Lesser chances of hospitalisation with smaller babies, as early interventions can improve outcomes

Also Read :- Here’s how to protect yourself from pneumonia this winter