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Facts for Life

Coughs, colds and more serious illnesses

Supporting Information


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.

Tuberculosis is a serious disease that can kill a child or permanently damage the lungs. Families and caregivers can help prevent tuberculosis if they ensure that children:

  • are fully immunized – BCG immunization offers some protection against some forms of tuberculosis
  • are kept away from anyone who has tuberculosis or has a cough with blood in the sputum.

If a trained health worker provides special medicine for tuberculosis, it is important to give the child all the medicine according to the instructions. It must be given for as long as specified, even if the child seems better. If not, the child could build up resistance to the medicine, reducing its effectiveness the next time it is needed.