Coughs, colds and pneumonia affect millions of people worldwide and can even kill.
Older children can learn how to avoid coughs or colds, stop them spreading and prevent them developing. They can learn about good hygiene practices. They can learn to recognize rapid breathing and the importance of getting an infant with rapid breathing to a health worker for urgent life-saving treatment.
Scroll down to read our Top Ten messages on Coughs, Colds and Pneumonia for children to learn and share, plus ideas on what children can do to understand, find out more, take action and reflect on this topic.
Download our PDF for your copy of all the messages and how to get children started with learning and sharing.
Smoke from cooking fires has tiny bits in it that can go into the lungs and cause illness. Avoid smoke by cooking outside, or where fresh air comes in and smoke escapes.
Children and babies are more likely to get pneumonia and have other breathing difficulties if they live in a smoky environment. Babies should be kept out of smoky kitchens and away from cooking fires. Children should play and sleep away from harmful smoke.
New designs of cooking stoves can help reduce smoke and save fuel. Watch the video about using a new stove in India.
Smoking tobacco makes lungs weak. Breathing smoke from other people smoking is also harmful.
Everyone has a right to breathe clean air. When children breathe in other people’s tobacco smoke it is very harmful. Breathing in tobacco smoke from other people can cause breathing problems in children and make them more vulnerable to infections. Keep tobacco smoke away from children!
Most people start smoking when they are teenagers. Say NO to cigarettes – practise saying no to cigarettes in role plays.
Smoking is harmful – find out about the diseases caused by smoking here.
Everyone gets coughs and colds. Most get better quickly. If a cough or colds last more than three weeks, go to a health clinic.
Coughs and colds are part of growing up as our body learns to defend itself against common germs and viruses. But sometimes a persistent cough can be a danger sign for a more serious illness like tuberculosis. When we have had a cough for more than three weeks we must go to the clinic to see a health worker for help.
Watch Meena and Mitu helping their neighbour find the health worker before buying expensive medicines from the kiosk.
There are types of germs called bacteria and others called viruses. Viruses cause most coughs and colds and can’t be killed using medicine.
Bacteria and viruses are sometimes called microbes. Bacteria and viruses both make us ill by reproducing inside our bodies and stopping our bodies working properly. Bacteria can be killed by some medicines but medicine doesn’t work on viruses – we have to wait for our body to get better.
Lungs are the part of the body that breathes. Coughs or cold makes lungs weak. Pneumonia is a bacteria germ that causes serious illness in weak lungs.
Our lungs are filled with small sacks called alveoli that help our blood take oxygen from the air. They are more vulnerable to germs and viruses if we have been ill with a cough or cold; or with diseases like measles or whooping cough. Pneumonia can attack our lungs after we have been ill.
A sign of pneumonia (a serious illness) is fast breathing. Listen to the breath. Watch the chest going up and down. Other signs are fever, sickness & chest pain.
Pneumonia is a disease that can be treated easily with medicine. It is very dangerous if it is not treated and many children and babies die from pneumonia every year. Danger signs for pneumonia include fast breathing, fever, vomiting and chest in-drawing (the chest goes in when we breathe in). We can learn the danger signs so we can get help FAST!
Fast, shallow, noisy breathing in babies up to 12 months is breathing that is 50- 60 breaths a minute or more. They must see a health worker FAST!
The lungs of children and babies are small. They need to take more breaths every minute than adults. When we have pneumonia our lungs fill with fluid and pus. This makes breathing difficult and we have to take many more breaths to make up for it which makes our breathing and baby’s breathing FAST. When breathing is fast, go to the health worker FAST!
A good diet (breastfeeding babies) a smoke-free home and immunisation prevents serious illness like pneumonia.
We can protect ourselves against coughs, colds and dangerous diseases like pneumonia. Eating well makes sure we have all the micro-nutrients we need especially zinc which helps our bodies fight infections. Babies need breast milk to give them protection against disease and help them grow strong. Immunisation protects us all from infectious diseases like measles and whooping cough that make us more vulnerable to pneumonia.
Treat a cough or cold by keeping warm, drinking tasty drinks often (like soup and juice), resting and keeping the nose clean.
When we have a cough or cold we can feel very uncomfortable. Drinking soups and juice will help us feel better and keep us strong. Taking rest helps our body use its energy to fight the illness. Keeping noses, faces and hands clean stops germs spreading to other people. We don’t need medicine to treat a cough or cold – our bodies will usually get better themselves if we let them.
Stop coughs, colds and other illnesses spreading from one to another. Wash hands properly. Eat and drink from clean utensils. Cough into paper.
Keeping hands clean is our best weapon against germs! Remembering to wash hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet is one of the best things we can do to protect our health. When we have a cough or cold we need to wash our hands and face more often, use paper for sneezing and coughing and wash plates and cups to stop the germs spreading to other people.
WHAT CAN CHILDREN
ALL 10 MESSAGES…
ACCIDENT & INJURY PREVENTION