Coughs, colds and more serious illnesses
Why it is important
*video library under development
Coughs, colds, sore throats and runny noses are common in the lives of children. Usually they are no cause for alarm.
In some cases, however, coughs are danger signs of more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. Pneumonia is the world's leading cause of death in girls and boys under age 5, closely followed by diarrhoea. Around 2 million children die from pneumonia every year. Pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. One out of every five deaths of children under age 5 is caused by this respiratory infection.
All girls and boys have the right to quality health care to make sure that respiratory infections and other illnesses are accurately diagnosed and treated before it is too late.
Most children with coughs or colds will get better on their own.
But if a child with a cough and fever is breathing rapidly or with difficulty, the child is in danger and needs to be taken to a trained health worker for immediate treatment.
1. A child with a cough or cold should be kept warm and encouraged to eat and drink as much as possible.Supporting Information
2. Sometimes, coughs are signs of a serious problem. A child who is breathing rapidly or with difficulty might have pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. This is a life-threatening disease. The child needs immediate treatment from a trained health worker, who can also provide a referral to a health facility.Supporting Information
3. Families can help prevent pneumonia by making sure babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that all children are well nourished and fully immunized.Supporting Information
4. A child who has a prolonged cough that persists for more than three weeks needs immediate medical attention. The child may have tuberculosis, an infection in the lungs.Supporting Information
5. Children and pregnant women exposed to smoke from tobacco or cooking fires are particularly at risk of pneumonia or other breathing illnesses.Supporting Information