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Patient education: Mycoplasma pneumonia in children (The Basics)

Patient education: Mycoplasma pneumonia in children (The Basics)

What is Mycoplasma pneumonia? — Mycoplasma pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause a cough, fever, sore throat, and other symptoms. It is slightly different from the type of pneumonia that people normally think of when they hear that term. Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by a specific type of bacteria. The symptoms it causes are also slightly different.

What are the symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumonia in children? — The symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumonia begin slowly in children. At first, a child might have a headache and a mild fever, and just not feel well. Later, the child might get a sore throat and cough. These symptoms are similar to those of a common cold. But Mycoplasma pneumonia can also cause other symptoms, including:

Headache

Sore throat

A rash or blisters on the lips or in the mouth

Upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea

Muscle aches

Pain in the knees, hips, or other joints

Should my child see a doctor or nurse? — Yes. If you think that your child has the symptoms described above, see a doctor or nurse right away.

Call for an ambulance (in the US and Canada, call 9-1-1) if your child:

Stops breathing

Has blue-looking lips, gums, or fingernails

Has a very hard time breathing

Starts grunting

Looks like they are getting tired from having to work so hard to breathe

If a doctor or nurse thinks that your child might have pneumonia, they will do an exam and listen to your child's breathing. They might also take an X-ray of your child's chest and do some blood tests.

How is Mycoplasma pneumonia treated? — Mycoplasma pneumonia is treated with a specific type of antibiotic. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria. They are available in pill or liquid form. Make sure that your child takes all of their antibiotics, even if they start feeling better before finishing them.

How soon will my child feel better? — Most children who are treated with antibiotics start to feel better 2 to 3 days after they start taking the medicine. Even so, your child might still feel tired or have a cough for a few weeks or even months after being treated. It might also be a few months before they can breathe comfortably while exercising.

How should I take care of my child at home? — Try to keep your child as comfortable as possible, and make sure that they get lots of rest. You should also give your child plenty of fluids to drink. For babies and very young children, it might help to offer small amounts of fluids frequently (instead of large amounts less often).

Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil, Motrin) can help relieve pain and discomfort caused by fever. The correct dose depends on your child's weight, so ask your child's doctor how much to give.

Do not give your child medicines that help with cough. These medicines do not usually work well, and they can have serious side effects in children. Also, do not give aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin to children younger than 18 years. In children, aspirin can cause a serious problem called Reye syndrome.

Call your child's doctor or nurse if your child does not seem to be getting better after 2 days. Your child might need a different type of treatment.

What can I do to keep my child from getting pneumonia again? — Wash your child's hands often with soap and water. It is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection. You can use an alcohol rub instead, but make sure that the hand rub gets everywhere on your child's hands.

There are several vaccines that help to protect against pneumonia. Talk to your child's doctor or nurse about which vaccines your child should get, and when they should get them.

More on this topic

Patient education: Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (The Basics)
Patient education: Fever in children (The Basics)
Patient education: Cough in children (The Basics)
Patient education: Bronchiolitis and RSV in children (The Basics)
Patient education: Flu (The Basics)
Patient education: Cough, runny nose, and the common cold (The Basics)
Patient education: Vaccines for babies and children age 0 to 6 years (The Basics)
Patient education: Vaccines for children age 7 to 18 years (The Basics)
Patient education: Pneumonia in children (The Basics)

Patient education: The common cold in children (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Bronchiolitis and RSV in infants and children (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Fever in children (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Pneumonia prevention in adults (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jun 02, 2024.
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