Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.
Signs and Symptoms
Fever, sweating and shaking chills, Lower than normal body temperature in people older than age 65, and in people with poor overall health or weakened immune systems, Cough, which may produce thick, sticky fluid, Chest pain when you breathe deeply or cough, Shortness of breath, Fatigue and muscle aches, Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, Headache.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia kills an estimated 1.1 million children under the age of five years every year more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
No disease kills more children aged less than five years than pneumonia, not least in Pakistan where one-fifth of the population is in this age group. The estimated figures reflected in many Pakistani studies tells us that the [annual] incidence of ARI [acute respiratory infection] in Pakistani children aged less than five years is 4% in the community a group constituting roughly 22% of the country’s population of 160 million. Taking this 4% figure, we can calculate that there are 15 million episodes of ARI every year among under-fives.
Vaccination and Prevention
Preventing pneumonia in children is an essential component of National Immunization Strategy to reduce child mortality. Immunization against Hib, pneumococcus, measles and whooping cough (pertussis) is the most effective way to prevent pneumonia. Pneumococcus is a germ that is responsible for causing most cases of severe pneumonia, and many cases of meningitis and blood stream infections in children in Pakistan. Infection by this germ is preventable by vaccine, which is given as a shot to infants and toddlers. It helps prevent pneumococcal disease, and also stops the disease from spreading from person to person. Three doses of this vaccine are given in the first year, preferably at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age, and the fourth dose is given at 15 months of age. If the vaccine is not given at above ages, it can be given later as well.