When should I call the doctor about my child’s cough?

 Call 911 or your local ambulance service right away if your child:

  • Is so tired and weak that he hardly responds to you
  • Is working very hard to breathe or finds it hard to take a breath
  • Grunts when he breathes
  • Chest retractions (skin pulling in around the ribs when breathing)
  • Has a blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips or gums.
  • Stops breathing for more than 10 seconds
  • Cannot speak while trying to breathe
  • Has any breathing problem that needs care right away.

Call your child’s doctor if your child has:

  • A cough and does not smile or show interest in play for at least a few minutes during any four-hour period
  • A new fever since being seen by the doctor (temperature over 100.3°F)
  • New symptoms such as chest pain, wheezing or stomach pain
  • Problems taking the medicine ordered by his doctor
  • A cough that often wakes him up at night

Continue Learning about Whooping Cough

Can I Develop Whooping Cough (Pertussis) as an Adult?
Can I Develop Whooping Cough (Pertussis) as an Adult?
People of all ages can get whooping cough (pertussis). Watch Darria Long-Gillespie, MD, explain how symptoms can be different for adults and children,...
Read More
How does whooping cough (pertussis) affect the body?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
The bacterium Bordetella pertussis infects the respiratory tract and prevents natural defense system...
More Answers
What is whooping cough (pertussis)?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Pertussis or whooping cough is a disease that causes severe coughing that makes it hard to breathe, ...
More Answers
What You Need To Know About Whooping Cough
What You Need To Know About Whooping Cough

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.