The word pneumonia often scares parents. The truth is that, in general, at least in most pediatric patients, the lion is not as fierce as they paint it. For this reason, I think it is necessary to explain what pneumonia consists of. To understand this pathology, let's first remember what the anatomy of the respiratory system is like.
Air enters through the nose or through the mouth (upper airway), from where it goes to the trachea, which branches into two main bronchi (one towards the right lung and one towards the left). These bronchi, in turn, branch (pun intended: like the branches of a tree) into smaller bronchi. The smallest are called bronchioles.
The bronchioles end in sachets called pulmonary alveoli. This is where gas exchange takes place. Well, taking that into account, pneumonia is that situation characterized by the presence of pus in the alveoli. As we can see, it is an infection of the lower respiratory tract.
From a clinical point of view, the child will have a fever (as in any infection), will manifest cough and mucus (as in any respiratory infection), but we can also appreciate some respiratory effort (what we doctors call 'pulling'), irritability, pain in the chest or abdomen and a variable degree of impairment of the general condition.
The way to diagnose pneumonia is through a chest X-ray, where a 'white spot' is usually seen. I have to note that if we order the plate too soon, we may not see any changes to it.
Although sometimes we have to admit children with pneumonia (if there is a poor general condition, need for oxygen or complications such as pleural effusion), the most normal thing is that they can follow a home treatment. Although there are pneumonia caused by viruses, in general, the treatment consists of the administration of an antibiotic for about a week.
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