Learning About Aspiration Pneumonia in Children

Child's respiratory system and lungs

What is aspiration pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of your child's lungs. It may have happened after your child breathed in (aspirated) a foreign substance. This could be a substance such as food, liquid, vomit, or mucus.

Aspiration may have happened because your child has a health problem that makes it hard to swallow normally.

Pneumonia makes it hard for your child to breathe. Your child may get medicines to help him or her breathe. Or your child may need oxygen.

Your child may get fluids and medicines through a tube in a vein (IV).

What are the symptoms?

Your child's symptoms may include:

  • Fever, cough, or trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain from coughing.

How is aspiration pneumonia treated?

  • The doctor may give your child antibiotics.
  • Your child may get medicines to help with breathing, coughing, and fever.
  • Mild pneumonia often goes away in 2 to 3 weeks. Your child may need 6 to 8 weeks or longer to recover from a bad case.
  • Your doctor will want you to keep your child away from smoke. After your child goes home, do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in your house.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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