For starters, it sent Kim Kardashian’s son to the hospital.
“My precious baby boy is so strong!” she captioned a photo of herself holding her two-year-old. “After spending three nights in the hospital & seeing my baby get multiple IVs and hooked up to oxygen machines, our end of year was challenging.”
“Pneumonia is so scary,” she continued. “I just want to thank every nurse & doctor out there who works so hard around the clock. We are so grateful for you all! He’s home and all better. He’s so resilient I’m sure he will still say the ambulance ride was cool! My strong Saint.”
Saint was hospitalized on Thursday and released on Saturday, according to TMZ.
Pneumonia is a serious illness, and it can be especially severe in children.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects millions of people in the U.S. each year, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or fungi, and there are a few ways you can get it: when viruses and bacteria that live in your nose or mouth spread to your lungs, when you breathe germs directly into your lungs, or when you inhale food, liquid, or vomit into your lungs. Risk factors for developing pneumonia include being hospitalized, smoking, having a suppressed immune system, or having asthma, COPD, or heart disease.
Pneumonia symptoms generally start off feeling like a cold, the Mayo Clinic explains, and usually include a cough with phlegm, fever, fatigue, and chest pain. But, unlike a cold, these symptoms can become severe and often need antibiotic treatment.
And pneumonia can be particularly dangerous for children, making it the leading infectious cause of death in kids under the age of five worldwide, according to the CDC.
Given that kids get colds pretty regularly, it’s understandable that parents might not know when their child’s cough is something more severe.
“Both pneumonia and an upper respiratory infection in kids can cause a child to feel pretty miserable,” Ashanti Woods, M.D., a pediatrician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF. Still, there are a few key differences between the symptoms of pneumonia and the common cold.
For starters, kids with pneumonia tend to act much sicker than those with an upper respiratory tract infection, Benjamin Nelson, M.D., director of pediatric bronchoscopy at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, tells SELF. Kids with colds will be tired but can generally go about their usual routine, Kathryn A. Boling, M.D., a primary care physician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF. But they’ll often become lethargic and stop eating normally when they have pneumonia.
Also, although children can develop a fever with a cold or pneumonia, it’s hard to battle a pneumonia fever with the usual Tylenol and Motrin. “It is not uncommon for the fever to return quickly after medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin have worn off,” Dr. Woods says.
Children who have a cold may get some relief by having a humidifier in their room at night, Dr. Woods says. But children who suffer from pneumonia tend to have a cough that gets progressively worse no matter what, S. Daniel Ganjian, M.D., a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. You may also notice that their nose flares when they try to breathe or the skin on their neck appears to be sucked in when they’re breathing; these are signs that they’re struggling to breathe properly, Dr. Boling says.
If you suspect that your child has developed pneumonia, take him or her to the doctor ASAP.
There, the doctor will listen to the lungs. If your child is wheezing or the doctor hears a crackling sound with a stethoscope, it’s more likely the child has pneumonia, Dr. Boling says. The doctor will also probably order a chest X-ray, which can show if there is fluid in your child’s lungs, a sign of pneumonia, Dr. Boling says.
Some kids with more severe cases and difficulty breathing do end up in the hospital. While there, they’ll usually be given IV antibiotics, fluids, and sometimes oxygen supplementation, Dr. Ganjian says. But, luckily, most kids with pneumonia don’t get hospitalized. If your doctor is concerned that your child’s pneumonia might be caused by bacteria, he or she will prescribe antibiotics and rest at home, Dr. Nelson says.
In general, children with pneumonia do well after they’re treated. “It used to be that pneumonia killed everybody, but most children do really well as long as they receive medical care,” Dr. Boling says.
Again, it’s pretty common for kids to develop a cough, and you shouldn’t panic if your child comes down with one. Just be aware that it can progress to something more serious, so call your doctor if your child doesn’t seem to be getting better.