Local doctors have reported seeing an increase in pneumonia cases in the city as the wet and cold weather of winter hits the Central Valley.
Childhood pneumonia cases are on the rise according to Dr. Jennifer Cordier of Oakdale Pediatrics, with seven cases diagnosed since the week of Thanksgiving.
“That number is unusual for this time of year,” said Cordier. “I would usually see that many in a four month period.”
Parents and sick children have rolled into their offices since November, when the flu season typically begins, as patients range from toddlers to teenagers with the breathing and coughing associated with the illness.
“It’s not serious enough to amount to hospitalization, but concerning to the point that they do have fluid present in their lungs,” said Cordier. “I’m not sure if it’s due to the weather or all the rain on Halloween when everyone was out.”
Pneumonia can occur at any age, although it is more common in younger children. Different age groups tend to be infected by different pathogens, which affect diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.
According to Cordier, pneumonia can mimic a cold or the flu, but it is considered a brutal lung disease. With pneumonia, patients will have lots of coughing, difficulty breathing, and a fever.
Pneumonia can also be caused by bacteria, fungal and viral, with the flu included as one of them.
Pneumonia is typically bacterial, which means antibiotics are used to treat it.
“Pneumonia in a child has to be treated with antibiotics,” said Cordier. “There’s nothing over-the-counter that can help it. You’ll need to see a doctor.”
Vaccines are recommended for people over the age of 65 or those with an immune deficiency.
Cordier recommended seeing a doctor after a persistent cough of four or more days or if there is chest pain and a fever to go with the cough.
For preventative measures always wash your hands and also cover your cough.
Another healthy approach this holiday season as families gather is to keep your under-the-weather relatives away from the baby. Their hugs, kisses and even handshakes spread germs that are dangerous, especially for the littlest ones, who are most at risk for serious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses that circulate this time of year.