What should I know about coughs, colds and more serious illnesses?
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. 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.
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.