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Pneumonia in Children

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

In general, a child with pneumonia is contagious. It is unlikely, though, that a child with this illness would give it to another child. Instead, these germs are more likely to cause upper respiratory infections when spread, such as the common cold or flu.
Children can limit the spread of these germs by:
  • Washing their hands regularly
  • Keeping their hands away from their nose, mouth, and eyes
  • Limiting exposure to infected people
  • Not sharing drinking glasses or eating utensils.

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children

There are a variety of signs or symptoms a child with pneumonia can have. Some of these possible indications include:
  • Fever
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cough (usually a dry cough)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Tiredness.
Often, pneumonia symptoms will begin a couple of days after a child has upper respiratory symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, and sore throat.
(Click Pneumonia Symptoms in Children for more information, including how these childhood symptoms compare to those seen in adults with pneumonia.)

How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed in Children?

In children, pneumonia is diagnosed after the healthcare provider asks a number of questions and performs a physical exam. He or she may also order a chest x-ray or blood tests to help make a diagnosis. In more severe cases or where complications are likely, other tests may be recommended to help narrow down the exact cause of pneumonia.
Several other conditions share similar symptoms with pneumonia. The healthcare provider will also consider these before making a pneumonia diagnosis.
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