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Is Pneumonia Contagious to Babies?

In common parlance, the inflammation of the lungs is known as pneumonia. So, is pneumonia contagious? Find out from what follows.
An infection is what becomes a common cause of the inflammation of the lungs and thus cause pneumonia. Responsible factors which trigger this infection include bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Apart from being most common in older adults, the illness also affects the young ones. The severity of this illness may range from being mild to life-threatening.

People who are more prone to developing pneumonia are those of age above 65, very young children and those suffering from HIV/AIDS, chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, emphysema, other lung diseases and diabetes. People who are in a habit of alcohol abuse and smoking also fall under the category of those at a higher risk of being affected by this illness. Other possible risk factors include hospitalization in an intensive care unit, exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants, surgery or serious injury, etc.

Is Pneumonia A Communicable Infection?

Doctors claim that if we look through it technically, pneumonia isn't contagious to babies nor to adults. However, it can earn the status of being contagious before it develops in a person. People who are affected by pneumonia usually suffer from cold before they develop the infection. So, the pathogen that has caused the cold is contagious. For example, streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterium which is a contagious one. When there are other causal factors involved such as inhaling a substance, recovering from surgery and particles that get into the lungs, the disease is not contagious.

It is most likely that babies may develop cold from the affected person but not pneumonia itself and it is again most unlikely that such babies may get as sick as the affected person who is contagious. So, if your babies develops pneumonia, it may not be due to any other person spreading it but the susceptibility of babies' lungs.

Some Important Facts on Pneumonia

# A more elaborate version of the description of pneumonia, as to what has been mentioned earlier, can be put in as the inflammation of the alveoli (a tiny sac for holding air in the lungs; formed by the terminal dilation of tiny air passageways) of the lungs. Apart from the alveoli, the bronchi (air tubes) also forms a part of the lung tissues. In some cases, both the alveoli and the bronchi are affected by this disease and the condition is termed as 'bronchopneumonia'. When both the lungs are affected, it is known as double pneumonia.

# Studies say that about 3 million people in the United States fall victim to pneumonia each year. Most of them receive full recovery, while some of them don't. Pneumonia symptoms are fever, cough, shortness in breath, sustained rapid or labored breathing, chest pains, shaking chills, blue coloration of the lips and face, fatigue, headache, wheezing and grunting. The baby may cry more than usual or may be more irritable or fussy than normal. It is important to take a note of the fact that these symptoms may mimic those of flu and so it may be difficult to know that the affected person may be suffering from any serious condition.

# A milder form of pneumonia, wherein, the affected child does not seem so sick and is well enough to 'walk around' with the disease, has been attributed as a walking pneumonia. Usual symptoms in children include decreased activity, fever, sore throat and a headache. Dry cough may appear as a symptom at a later stage, accompanied by a skin rash, troubled breathing, chills, enlarged lymph glands, diarrhea, annoying runny nose problem, muscle aches and wheezes in the chest.

As far as the treatment is concerned, it depends upon the cause of the illness, whether it is viral, bacterial, fungal and the like. Do not entertain any risks of self-medication by going for any kind of over-the-counter medicines for your babies. The best and the safest way would be to take your young ones to a pediatrician and get the required insights on the treatment and preventive steps.
By Rajib Singha
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