Status: 04.12.2023, 09:21 a.m.
By: Juliane Gutmann
If left untreated, pneumonia can lead to blood poisoning and lack of oxygen. If you act early, you can prevent complications.
In the frosty season, viruses and many bacteria have an easier time. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that people are spending more time indoors with several people again. Many bacteria and viruses are also resistant to cold. "Viruses have greater stability at low temperatures. Similar to food that has the longest shelf life in the refrigerator," explains virologist Thomas Pietschmann, according to Deutsche Welle. Bacteria are also survivors, as the Federal Center for Health Education informs. In some cases, they would be able to do without oxygen at all and many would prefer the cold.
How does pneumonia develop?
According to the Schön Clinic Group, the most common cause of pneumonia is an infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Also, if foreign bodies or stomach contents enter the bronchi through accidental inhalation, this can lead to pneumonia. In children, the disease is often caused by pneumococci or Haemophilus influenzae – both bacteria, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). In infants, certain streptococci or intestinal bacteria could also be common triggers, it continues. But cold viruses or flu viruses could also cause pneumonia in children.
Increased pneumonia in children in China
In autumn and winter, colds are in high season. Respiratory diseases such as flu-like infections or Covid-19 usually end without complications. However, severe courses are also possible. In China, for example, an above-average number of children have been treated for pneumonia in hospitals in recent weeks (as of November 30). As the Tagesschau informed on November 24, 2023, the Chinese health authorities attributed the increase to influenza viruses and mycoplasma. The latter are bacteria that can cause pneumonia, especially in children, according to the Tagesschau report.
Severe cough is a typical symptom of pneumonia. © Imago
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Pneumonia? Correctly interpreting symptoms in the child
Children are more likely to contract pneumonia than adults. One reason for this is that your immune system is not yet fully formed. In addition, children up to the age of six are generally more likely to be ill because pathogens can be transmitted quickly from child to child, as IQWiG informs. Every year, 35 out of 10,000 children under the age of six develop pneumonia, but only 15 out of 10,000 older children, it says.
In order to avoid serious courses of the disease, pneumonia in children should be treated as soon as possible. Treacherous: Children do not always show the typical symptoms of fever or cough. IQWiG explains how pneumonia can manifest itself in children. Typical and atypical symptoms, which can occur simultaneously or individually, at a glance:
- Cough and sputum
- Stomach ache
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Nostrils move significantly during breathing
- Skin between the ribs visibly pulls inward during breathing
- In infants: apathy, vomiting, loss of appetite, high fever, very rapid heartbeat
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This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It is in no way a substitute for a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editorial team is not allowed to answer individual questions about clinical pictures.