Although pneumonia and a cold are two separate illnesses, kids who get a cold may end up getting pneumonia. According to child development experts at the Kids Health website, the common cold is the number one reason kids in the U.S. see the doctor and miss school. Symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and cough can make kids uncomfortable. Pneumonia, on the other hand, is an infection of the lungs, and while it’s usually not severe, if left untreated it can be a dangerous illness. Protecting your kids from catching a cold or pneumonia can make a major difference in their well-being.
Teach your child to wash her hands well and to do it often. It’s especially important for kids to wash their hands before eating or touching their faces. Make sure they use warm water and soap and scrub their hands for 20 seconds before rinsing and drying.
Keep your child away from anyone who you know is sick with a cold, pneumonia or any other type of respiratory illness. If she encounters someone who’s sick, remind her to wash her hands promptly after the visit.
Feed your child a well-balanced diet. Choose colorful vegetables and fruit to build her immune system, as well as those high in vitamins C and D. Yogurt, high in probiotics, can also help boost her immune system. Make sure your child gets the recommended amount of sleep each night, depending on her age. Parents magazine notes that kids who don’t get adequate sleep are twice as likely to get sick than those who sleep the recommended hours each night.
Get the recommended vaccines for your child. Vaccinating your child against viruses that lead to pneumonia can help in prevention. The pneumococcal, pertussis, measles, chicken pox and flu vaccine are all recommended and may help to reduce the child’s risk of catching pneumonia.
Keep your child away from anyone who smokes. Even secondhand smoke can cause damage to the lungs, which may make the child more susceptible to respiratory illnesses like colds or pneumonia.
Instill in your child the importance of keeping her hands out of her mouth, eyes and nose, as this is where these viruses and bacteria enter the body. This is especially important if her hands are dirty or if she’s been in close contact with someone who’s sick.
Talk to your child about the importance of not sharing drinks, eating utensils, lip balm and similar items with others, even if the person doesn’t appear to be sick. If someone in your household has a cold or pneumonia, make sure your child is using separate hand and face towels, as well as separate eating utensils and dishes than the person who is ill.
Seek medical attention promptly if you think your child may have pneumonia.