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

Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough

If your child experiences uncontrollable coughing that makes it difficult for them to breathe, talk to your doctor about whooping cough. Thousands of people yearly become ill with whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, ...

and some are hospitalized. This highly contagious illness can be very dangerous, and even deadly, in young infants. Thankfully, vaccines have helped to reduce the spread of whooping cough, although current vaccines are not 100% effective against this illness. If your child contracts this bacterial respiratory infection he or she will most likely be treated with antibiotics. To protect your children against whooping cough, talk to your doctor about vaccination

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.