How is whooping cough (pertussis) in children treated?

Your child’s doctor will talk with you about specific care for your child. Some general guidelines are listed here:

• Antibiotics do not cure the infection but decrease your child’s carrying
   the infection and spreading it.

• Cough medicines usually do not help.

• If your child is treated at home, treatment may include:

- A cool-mist vaporizer to keep secretions loose. If you use a vaporizer,
   follow the directions forcleaning it to prevent mold and mildew from
   growing in it.

- Antibiotics

- Give your child lots of fluids to help keep him from getting dehydrated
   (drying out).

- Give him small meals often during the day to help keep him from
   vomiting (throwing up).

- Do not smoke at home or use other things that might cause more
   coughing, such as aerosol sprays or smoke from the fireplace.

• Severe cases may need to be treated in the hospital, especially babies
   and young children. Your child may need:

- Isolation to keep him from infecting others.

- Breathing treatments or oxygen.

- Intravenous (IV) fluids.

- Antibiotics.

- Breathing machines if the symptoms become severe.

• Other family members or close friends may need to get antibiotics (to
   decrease spreading the infection) if they have been exposed. Adults who
   will be regularly caring for infants should receive a pertussis vaccine
   booster shot from their doctor regardless of whether their child has

Continue Learning about Whooping Cough

How to Prevent Whooping Cough
How to Prevent Whooping Cough
Pertussis, nicknamed “whooping cough” thanks to the whoop-like sound a sufferer makes after a coughing fit, is a highly contagious and potentially ser...
Read More
Who is whooping cough (pertussis) most severe in?
James FortenberryJames Fortenberry
Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough”, is an infection of the lungs and respiratory (breathing) ...
More Answers
How do medications treat whooping cough?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Antibiotics are the medications used to treat whooping cough. They kill the bacteria that cause ...
More Answers
How Effective Are Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccines?
How Effective Are Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccines?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.