What is pneumonia anyway? Pneumonia (new-mo-nya) is an infection of the lungs.
What are lungs and what do they do?
When you inhale you take in air with lots of oxygen, which you need to stay alive. Healthy lungs let air pass through and speed by the alveoli, then into red blood cells. Oxygen is delivered all over the body. But when you have pneumonia, liquid blocks the alveoli in your lungs using liquid.
What’s pneumonia feel like?
Most people with pneumonia feel really sick. You’ll probably have faster or labored breathing. You may also cough up phlegm (flem). Other symptoms include: chest pain, fever, upset stomach, and loss of appetite. If you cough up lots of mucus, you should call your parents right away.
How young can I get it?
Pneumonia can happen to anyone at any age, from cooing babies to seniors.
How do I get it?
“The way of the pneumonia” is a viral (as in a virus) or a bacterial infection. Most of the time your body can get those “guys” before you can say, “Bye Bye germs,” but sometimes the germs are really tough and nasty, so your body has a hard time fighting them off. Other times, kids might get pneumonia after they've already have been sick awhile. A cold or flu germ might travel to the lungs and irritate them. While your body is trying to stop the irritation, other germs will sneak in the “back door” so to speak and cause pneumonia.
How serious can it get?
If you go to the doctor’s office he/she will do these things:
Can it kill me?
People in the hospital: 10-25% of people who go to the hospital for pneumonia die. 50-70% of the people who go to the hospital for other reasons and catch pneumonia die. About 20% of all early infant deaths are due to pneumonia.
The Nemours Foundation. "KidsHealth for Kids" 1995-2004. <http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/> (January-February, 2004).
Images of lungs, stethoscope, and dictionary from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?cag=1> Images free for non-profit and personal use. (October-February, 2003-2004).
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