The recent outbreak of child pneumonia cases in China alarmed several countries across the world. A sudden uptick in undiagnosed respiratory illnesses, or what was popularly termed 'walking pneumonia', prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to demand more details from the Chinese health authorities.
However, pneumonia is a condition that has existed since time immemorial. It is an infection that causes one or both the air sacs of the lungs to be filled with fluids, which leads to coughing with phlegm, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. According to UNICEF data, pneumonia accounts for over seven lakh deaths annually, which is equal to 2,000 lives every day. Worldwide, there are more than 1,400 cases of pneumonia per 100,000 children, with the greatest incidence occurring in South Asia and West and Central Africa.
In an interaction with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Sumita Saha, Paediatrics & Neonatologist, Fortis Hospital, Kolkata, said, “In India, since the past two months, there has been a surge in the cases of viral pneumonia caused by influenza or bronchiolitis caused by RSV among infants, which means kids who are 1-2 years old. The reason being their weak immune systems during the weather change, as viral infections are more active during this period.”
While doctors and medical professionals are your best guides during a pneumonia infection in children, diet can also play an integral role in supporting your child’s respiratory wellness.
Foods To Add To Your Child’s Diet
Although, in the case of infants, meaning kids younger than one year, the amount of food given should be consulted with the doctor, here are some foods that can aid your child during pneumonia:
- Foods rich in protein, like nuts, seeds, beans, and fish, can be helpful to boost immunity levels in kids and control the symptoms of pneumonia. These foods help repair damaged tissues and build new ones in the body.
- Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and lettuce, have antioxidants that protect the body from infections.
- Whole grains, like brown rice, barley, and oats, are rich in carbohydrates, selenium, and B-vitamins that provide energy to the body and strengthen the immune system to fight infection.
- Honey and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties, which help in curing respiratory problems.
- Water can also be a good source of fluid that helps in loosening the mucus from the lungs and flushing out foreign particles that disturb the respiratory tract.
Understand Your Child’s Risk Of Pneumonia
While most healthy children can fight off pneumonia, kids with a compromised immune system are extremely prone to developing the disease, says the WHO. In addition, pre-existing illnesses, such as symptomatic HIV infections and measles, can also increase a child's risk of contracting pneumonia, according to the global health body.
Certain environmental factors, like indoor air pollution, crowded homes, and parental smoking, can contribute to the risk.
A well-balanced and nutritious diet plays an important role in supporting the recovery of children with pneumonia. As a parent, you must include healthy amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein in your child's diet to help strengthen their immune system and promote overall wellness. Additionally, ensuring proper hydration and offering easily digestible foods can aid in the healing process.