If your child has asthma, you probably already know it’s a condition that needs careful monitoring and treatment. But did you know there’s a possible link between asthma and pneumonia? This means that as a parent, you need to be more vigilant than before.
Researchers suggest it may be because asthmatic children have different lungs and weakened immune systems, which make them susceptible to respiratory diseases.
The good news is that there are steps you can take as a parent to prevent your child from getting pneumonia.
How to Differentiate Asthma from Pneumonia
Asthma is an incurable chronic condition that affects bronchioles, while pneumonia is a bacterial infection in the air sacs and can be cured.
Asthmatic children have inflamed airways triggered by allergens like pollen, smoke, medicine, and other irritants. An attack can cause their body to create more mucus, making it difficult to breathe normally.
Pneumonia, on the other hand, causes inflamed lungs and exhibits symptoms comparable to asthma—coughing, fever, and fatigue. However, the treatments for each condition are different.
Children are more prone to pneumonia, a.k.a. pediatric pneumonia, than adults.
How do Children Get Pediatric Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is caused by either a virus like the flu or a bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae. This bacteria is the main cause of pneumococcal disease (PD) and attacks different parts of the body, including the lungs.
Anyone can get PD, but children under the age of two and those with chronic lung illnesses like asthma are at a higher risk. Once the bacteria from PD invades the lungs, it will result in pneumonia.
Other types of bacteria, viruses, and certain fungi can also cause this sickness. Some are contagious, so if an infected person coughs or sneezes nearby, your kids might inhale them through the air. They may also get it from direct contact with an object touched by that person.
How Does Asthma Increase the Risk of Pneumonia?
A study from the School of Public Health found that children with asthma are more susceptible to developing pneumonia from pneumococcal disease (PD).
Asthmatics have swollen airways and are at risk for airway remodeling, which can permanently damage their lungs.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), they are more vulnerable to PD because their lungs are different from normal. Corticosteroids, a common asthma drug that suppresses the immune system, can also be a factor.
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented in Asthmatic Children?
Keep your asthmatic child safe from pneumonia by doing these two things:
Administer a Pneumococcal Vaccine
Kids with asthma are recommended to get the pneumococcal vaccine to avoid catching the disease and prevent its development. This vaccine may also be taken by other family members to arrest transmission.
Avoid Contact with Other People
The pneumococcal virus can be transmitted by sneezing, coughing, or direct contact. Because some symptoms don’t always manifest, it is better to take preventive measures.
When it comes to children with asthma, it’s best to keep them away from people they don’t know, even those who appear healthy.
Symptoms of Pneumococcal Disease
Because PD is linked to pneumonia, it will be beneficial to keep a watchful eye on the following signs in case they appear in your children.
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating and chills
- Stiff neck
- Disorientation (confusion)
Call your child’s physician right away if they show any of these symptoms.
Newport Children’s Medical Group
There has been much debate over the connection between asthma and pediatric pneumonia. Researchers believe the link exists because asthmatic children may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections due to weakened immune systems and lung damage.
In any case, taking precautions is best for your child’s health. Be sure to speak with a doctor at one of our four Southern California locations if you are concerned about your child’s health.