Bronchial pneumonia, also known as bronchopneumonia, is an infection of the bronchial tubes of the lungs and the most common form of pneumonia in infants. If your child shows symptoms such as high fever, productive cough, loss of appetite, weakness, wheezing and difficulty in breathing, contact your pediatrician immediately. Bronchial pneumonia is one of the leading causes of infant death, so it is important to treat it promptly.
Bronchial pneumonia affects infants more than adults because their respiratory immune system is still immature. The main cause of bronchopneumonia is a bacterium known as the pneumococcus. Other bacteria responsible for the illness are staphylococcus aureus and mycoplasma pneumoniae. Viruses such as the influenza virus or adenovirus may also cause it. Occasionally, the infection occurs secondary to a cold or illnesses such as the measles.
Your pediatrician will observe you baby's breathing pattern and examine his lungs with a stethoscope. Abnormal sounds and noises will be the first indications of a lung infection. He may order a chest X-ray to find out the type, location and extent of the infection. He may also send blood and nose secretion samples for lab testing to determine the causes.
Bacterial bronchopneumonia will be treated by your doctor with antibiotics. There are no drugs against the viral form, but the infection will eventually clear by itself. It is important to keep your child hydrated and help him breathe by using a humidifier. Ask your doctor if fever reducers can be used to keep the fever under control. If the sickness is severe, your baby may be hospitalized and treated with antibiotics and fluids through IV therapy.
The most effective method to prevent your child from catching pneumonia is vaccination. Vaccines against the pneumococcus, flu and measles are all available in the first months of your baby's life. Make sure your baby eats well and gets plenty of fluids and rest. Keep a smoke-free environment at all times. Proper hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing also can help minimize the risk of contracting bronchial pneumonia.