Why Care About World Pneumonia Day?

November 12, 2014 7:00 PM

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It was the end of a brutal long winter when my son developed a fever and a cough. It couldn't have come at a worse time, as his fourth birthday party was just a week away. As a physician, I was quite sure it was just another cold. But as a parent, I dutifully took him to see the pediatrician. She looked him over and confirmed my suspicions -- most likely a viral illness. With fluids, fever medicine and rest, he would recuperate in a few days. Initially, he seemed to be getting better with a little more energy and appetite. Until the morning I woke up and found him listless. He had no new complaints, but I could tell he wasn't himself. Back to the pediatrician's office we went. His breathing was a bit more rapid than before, so the nurse put a tiny probe on his finger to check how much oxygen he was getting. I was speechless when I saw the number on the monitor. In that moment, I knew my son had pneumonia.

For parents, pneumonia is an incredibly insidious disease. In its initial stages, it can look like an everyday cold. Its stealth nature makes it lethal -- killing nearly a million children under the age of five each year -- children very much like my son. On World Pneumonia Day alone, over 4,200 chi...

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