Pneumonia is an inflammatory process of infectious etiology that affects the lung tissue. As a rule, the disease proceeds with a characteristic set of symptoms, but sometimes they are absent or appear to a small extent. Latent pneumonia in children is very dangerous, since the inflammatory process, if untreated, can provoke severe complications.
As a rule, with asymptomatic pneumonia, a small area of lung tissue is involved in the inflammatory process. As a result, signs of intoxication are very weak, and there may be no characteristic pulmonary symptoms at all. Most often, there are no symptoms characteristic of infectious and respiratory diseases, such as cough, runny nose, fever.
Causes of occurrence
Infectious agents are the immediate cause of pneumonia. Most often these are bacteria or viruses, less often fungi and protozoa. Inflammation of the lung tissue usually begins as a continuation of ARVI, develops against the background of a weakened immune system. In children under one year old, the immune system is still being formed and may not effectively cope with an infection that has entered the body.
A high temperature indicates the body’s fight against infectious agents and inflammation. With latent pneumonia, this symptom is most often absent, since a weak immune system cannot resist pathogens.
In children, the immune status can be reduced for the following reasons:
- improper feeding, incorrect and too early introduction of complementary foods;
- infectious respiratory diseases;
- pathology of the digestive tract.
The disease can develop due to exposure to low temperatures or overheating.
If a child under one year old develops ARVI or another respiratory infection, it can lead to the development of an inflammatory process in the lungs due to stagnation of sputum in the lower respiratory tract and insufficient ventilation of the lungs. This happens because babies are predominantly in a lying position. In addition, babies do not yet know how to fully cough up phlegm.
In older children, a latent form of pneumonia can develop due to prolonged or uncontrolled treatment with antibacterial drugs. Due to improper therapy, infectious agents acquire resistance to antibiotics, while the child’s immunity is inhibited. Also, without examination and consultation with a doctor, ineffective drugs can be used that do not work at all in a particular case.
Possible manifestations of latent pneumonia
Latent pneumonia can be suspected by the following manifestations:
- lethargy, moodiness, drowsiness;
- lack of appetite;
- excessive sweating;
- constant thirst;
- sleep disorders;
- pallor or cyanosis of the skin in the area of the nasolabial triangle;
- shallow and frequent, sometimes heavy and intermittent breathing.
In young children, the disease can be manifested by frequent regurgitation, bloating, and occasional coughing. Very often, parents take such symptoms for ARVI, they think that the baby is teething. Often, pneumonia develops as a complication of a respiratory illness, and the child continues to be treated with inappropriate medications. Self-medication not only does not help to cure the disease, but also lubricates the clinical picture, which complicates the diagnosis. Therefore, even with the slightest health problems in a child, you should consult a doctor and strictly follow his recommendations. Lack of adequate treatment for torpid and asymptomatic course of the disease can lead to severe complications up to death. And the younger the child, the more dangerous it is to self-medicate.
Identification of the disease
If a child does not have ARVI for a long time, he is lethargic, refuses to eat or shows other manifestations of the disease, it is necessary to contact a pediatrician and undergo an examination. Parents should be sensitive to any changes in the behavior and condition of the child, as latent pneumonia is asymptomatic only to a certain extent. According to some signs, it is still possible to determine that the baby is unwell .
The doctor will necessarily examine the child, find out the anamnesis and analyze the existing clinical picture. Diagnostics necessarily includes listening to the lungs with a phonendoscope and percussion. To make a diagnosis, the following types of studies are assigned:
- general blood analysis;
- analysis of mucus from the nose or throat to determine a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection;
- bacteriological culture of sputum;
- serological studies (PCR, ELISA);
- blood biochemistry;
- X-rays of light.
The main diagnostic method for determining latent pneumonia is radiography of the lungs. In this study, you can clearly see infiltrates, foci of inflammation in the lung tissue, determine the spread and localization of the pathological process.
If the disease is detected at an early stage and proceeds relatively easily, then a child over three years old can be treated at home. The indications for hospitalization are:
- early age (up to three years);
- significant spread of the inflammatory process (involvement of a whole lobe or several lobes);
- the presence of complications;
- congenital or acquired heart defects, diseases of the chronic bronchopulmonary system.
Depending on the stage and severity of the pneumonia, recovery occurs within two weeks to two months. The mainstay of treatment for all forms of pneumonia, including those that are asymptomatic, is antibiotic therapy. Since the results of bacteriological culture sometimes have to wait, and the child needs to be treated immediately, at the initial stage, antibiotic therapy is empirical in nature. The doctor prescribes one or two types of drugs, and if no positive dynamics is observed after 1.5-2 days, then other drugs are selected.
If the disease still has any, albeit mild, symptoms, medications can be prescribed to get rid of the symptoms of the disease. If the child has a fever, antipyretic drugs are used (it can be given only with indicators above 37.5). When coughing, mucolytics , bronchodilators , expectorants are prescribed.
After overcoming the acute period (in cases where latent pneumonia is detected in the early course), physiotherapy , massage, breathing exercises can be prescribed . With a torpid course of the disease, the child’s blood gas composition is significantly disturbed due to insufficient respiratory function. In such cases, oxygen therapy is used to help supply the tissues with sufficient oxygen.
If the treatment is carried out at home, then parents need to closely monitor compliance with the regime, feed the child correctly. The room should be wet cleaned twice a day, the temperature should be maintained at 20-22 degrees. Ventilate the room daily, while moving the child to another room.
To avoid pneumonia, including one that occurs in the absence of severe symptoms, the child must be properly fed, tempered, vaccinated against pneumococcal infections and flu. You should pay enough attention to physical activity, walking, playing sports. Also, to strengthen immunity during an unfavorable epidemiological situation, you can give your baby vitamins. If a child has caught the flu, SARS or acute respiratory infections, he must be treated promptly and correctly. It is imperative to drink the prescribed course of drugs to the end, since an incompletely destroyed infection may reactivate.
The danger of asymptomatic pneumonia is that, if untreated, the pathology progresses, provoking severe complications.
- empyema of the pleura;
- involvement in the inflammatory process of pleural tissues;
- the formation of an abscess in the lungs;
- the development of multiple organ failure;
- development of cardiopulmonary failure.