Chest infection and pneumonia

What is a chest infection?

A Chest Infection is inflammation or infection in one or both of the lungs, (sometimes called pneumonia) in children this can be caused by Viruses or Bacteria. Viruses are the most common cause of a chest infection in children. Often this develops after an infection in the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). This causes fluid to collect in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Chest infections can be mild and will resolve on their own. However, in more serious cases children may need to be treated in hospital.

What are the signs and symptoms of a chest infection (pneumonia?)

The signs and symptoms depend on what caused the infection and the age of the child. A bacterial chest infection usually begins more quickly than if its viral.

Your child may have one of the following:

  • Generally unwell
  • High Temperature/fever
  • Fast and/or difficulty in breathing cough
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Tummy aches or pains
  • Chest pain especially when coughing
  • Feeling tired
  • Reduced appetite

What treatments are available?

Chest infections are treated with antibiotics. Most of the time oral antibiotics will be enough but if your child is very unwell, has complications or cannot tolerate oral medication, they might require antibiotics given through a vein. The doctor will determine if your child has a chest infection by asking you questions and examining your child. The doctor will listen to your child’s chest using a stethoscope, they are listening for any crackling or rattling sounds.

For more information read our chest infection/pneumonia leaflet here.


Useful links

The Black and Asian Family (Barnardos) helpline

Last Modified: 1:50pm 21/07/2022