Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Home Treatment
If your child has
whooping cough (pertussis), the coughing spells can be
scary. To help manage the symptoms, you can:
- Create a quiet, calm, restful environment. Keep stimulation to
a minimum to help reduce the number of coughing spells.
- Control possible triggers of a coughing episode, such as smoke,
dust, sudden noises or lights, or changes in temperature.
- Give your child frequent, small sips of fluids and nutritious
foods to provide needed energy that coughing uses up.
- Use a
humidifier in your child's room. But watch closely to
see its effect. Sometimes humidity makes coughing spells worse, in which case
it should be avoided. Dry, hot, or polluted air may make coughing spells worse.
- Hold your child in a calming manner.
- Have your child who is age 1 year or older lie on his or her side or stomach rather than the
back. Lying on the back could trigger a coughing spell. If your baby is younger than 1 year old, talk to your baby's doctor about the best way to position your child.
Over-the-counter medicines, such as
cough suppressants and
antihistamines, have not been shown to help relieve
If your child has whooping cough, he or she can go back to school or day care after 5 days of taking antibiotics. But if your child does not take antibiotics, have him or her wait 21 days after the start of symptoms before going back to school or day care.1
hand-washing is important to help prevent the spread
of infection. Keep children away from people who have a bad cough, especially
if it may be related to whooping cough. If you have whooping cough, take antibiotics for at least 5 days before being near young children. And don't return to work in schools, day care centers, or health
facilities until after 5 days of antibiotics.
Immunizations are critical to preventing diseases such
as pertussis from becoming widespread (epidemic) problems. Children start
immunizations against pertussis(What is a PDF document?) at age 2 months. A total of 5 shots (injections)
are given at different times until ages 4 to 6 years. The vaccines for
diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are all in one shot called DTaP.
tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster shot(What is a PDF document?) is needed for continued
protection. Tdap is recommended at age 11 or 12. Teens and adults
ages 13 to 64 who never got the Tdap shot should get it in place of a Td
(tetanus and diphtheria) shot. And all teens and adults (including adults older than 64) who have or expect to have close contact with a baby less than 1 year old should get this shot. Adults age 65 and older can get one dose if they choose to do so. For more information, see the topic