Whooping cough is a disease that causes very severe coughing. Your child may be sneezing and have a runny nose and fever. What makes this illness different from other childhood illnesses with these symptoms is that the cough gets worse. In whooping cough, the other symptoms go away, but the cough becomes worse.
Whooping cough is also called pertussis. People of any age can get it, but it can be very hard on babies in their first year.
Your child may have a cough for weeks or even months. A coughing spell may last for a minute or more. It can be frightening to watch your child cough and try to breathe. In between coughing spells, your child may be very tired.
The doctor may give your child antibiotics to control the spread of the bacteria. This may shorten the time your child is sick. If your child is younger than 4 months or seems to have trouble breathing, the doctor may recommend a hospital stay. This will help your child get enough oxygen, fluids, and nutrients.
This disease can spread quickly from person to person. Other family members may need to be immunized. Babies who do not get the vaccine may catch whooping cough from adult caregivers who don't know that they have it. You can help prevent or decrease the severity of whooping cough by keeping your family's immunizations up to date.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter U468 in the search box to learn more about "Whooping Cough (Pertussis) in Children: Care Instructions."
Current as of:
July 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
© 2006-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.