Your child can get pneumonia straight after fighting off another infection, such as a cold or flu.
Take your child to your GP immediately if you think they have pneumonia.
Emergency action required: Call 999, 112 or go to your nearest emergency department (ED) if:
- your child is having difficulty breathing or is breathing very rapidly
- your child’s lips or tongue are blue
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia in your child
Your child's symptoms may start suddenly or gradually over a few days.
- a high temperature
- shortness of breath or fast breathing
- a cough - it may be dry or they may cough up yellow, brown or green mucus (phlegm)
- chest pain
- feeling very tired
- being irritable
Signs of pneumonia in your child include:
- their nostrils get wider when they breathe
- they use their tummy muscles more than usual for breathing
- they make wheezing noises when they breathe - babies may make grunting noises
- their ribs 'suck in' as they breathe
- they are not drinking as much as usual or refusing drinks
Tests your child may need
Your GP may be able to diagnose your child with pneumonia by examining them and listening to their chest with a stethoscope.
Sometimes your GP will order tests to help them check if your child has pneumonia.
These might include blood tests or a chest x-ray. You can stay with your child while these tests are being done.
Treatment for pneumonia
Your GP will prescribe antibiotics if your child's pneumonia is caused by bacteria.
Antibiotics will not help your child if the pneumonia is caused by a virus. Pneumonia caused by a virus is not usually as serious.
If your child is very ill or vomiting, they may need go to hospital for treatment.
In hospital, your child will be given fluids and antibiotics directly into their vein through a drip. They may also be given oxygen to help them breathe.
How to care for a child with pneumonia
There are things you can do to help your child recover from pneumonia.
let them rest
give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen for children to help with pain or a high temperature - do not give ibuprofen to a baby under 3 months
offer feeds more often if you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding
make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids
make sure your child is up to date with their vaccines - many of them help prevent pneumonia
teach your child not to share other people's cups and cutlery
do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child
do not give cough medicine to your child if they are under 6 (unless your GP tells you to)