Health Library
Pneumonia, Community Acquired

What is Community Acquired Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Pneumonia is called community acquired when germs common in the community cause it. Although pneumonia rarely causes serious problems, it needs to be followed closely.

A doctor can often diagnose pneumonia just by examining the child. Sometimes a chest X-ray is needed. Sometimes blood tests are needed to help decide if antibiotics are necessary.

Although your child may improve in one to three days, a cough may last for several more weeks. Every infection is different, so be sure to ask your child's doctor what to expect with your child. Talk to your child's doctor about when to send your child back to day care or school.

Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia vary, but any of the following may be caused by pneumonia:

  • Cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fast breathing
  • Pain in the chest

Pneumonia is more likely if a child has a fever along with these symptoms. If your child has these problems and they seem to be getting worse, it is usually a good idea to call your child's doctor.

Treatment for Pneumonia

  • Most children can be treated at home, but some children may be hospitalized.
  • If a virus caused the pneumonia, antibiotics may not be necessary. If bacteria caused the pneumonia, then an antibiotic may be given.
  • If antibiotics are needed, the doctor, nurse or pharmacist will explain how and for how long to give the medicine. It is important to use all of the medicine prescribed, and not to use old medicine you may have at home.
  • Medicine to reduce fever may be given for the child's comfort. Never give aspirin without talking to the doctor first. Do not give ibuprofen to a child under 6 months of age.
  • Cough medicine is not recommended and should be used only when prescribed by the child's doctor.
  • Other comfort measures may include rest and fluids. Your child may be more comfortable in a cool room.
  • Good hand-washing will help prevent the spread of germs to other family members.
  • Smoke is very irritating to the lungs especially for someone with pneumonia. If you or another family member smokes, smoke outside and ask friends to do the same.

Call Your Child's Doctor If:

  • You are worried and have questions
  • Your child has not improved within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms

Last Updated 03/2023

Reviewed By Julie Snider, RN

Visiting Cincinnati Childrens.

Cincinnati Children’s has primary care services at locations throughout Greater Cincinnati.