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Pneumonia in Children

Treatment for Childhood Pneumonia

When a child is diagnosed with pneumonia, the specific treatment recommended will depend on several factors, including:
  • The child's age
  • What is thought to be causing the infection
  • How serious the symptoms are
  • What other medical conditions the child might have.
Most cases of pneumonia in children can be treated with medicines given at home. More severe cases, however, do require time in the hospital. IV antibiotics and oxygen may be needed for a couple of days, until the child is well enough to go home. At that point, he or she will be sent home with antibiotics that are taken by mouth.
Whether antibiotics are prescribed will depend on what the healthcare provider believes is causing the infection. For bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics will be prescribed (see Antibiotics and Pneumonia). Your child should take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed and all the antibiotics that were prescribed. This will decrease the chances of the drug not completely eliminating the infection.
Getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids will also help. You may find it easier to give smaller amounts of fluid more often than large amounts of fluid less often.
Acetaminophen (Infant Tylenol®, Children's Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Infants' Advil®, Children's Advil®) can be given for pain relief and/or fever. These medicines will also help with coughing. Coughing is good because it will help clear the lungs of germs. For this reason, cough-suppressing medicines are not recommended.

How Long Do Symptoms Last?

A child with pneumonia will often start to feel better three to five days after the medicines are started. He or she can usually return to normal activities within a week.
Tiredness and a mild cough can take longer to get better; in some cases, it can take upwards of a month or longer to get better. For example, with viral pneumonia or pertussis, the cough can last as long as three or four months.
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Pneumonia Information

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