Medication Guide App

Pertussis In Children


Pertussis is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. It is also called whooping cough. Your child's air passages get plugged with thick mucus, which causes coughing spells. Anyone can have pertussis, but it is most serious in babies and young children. It may be treated with antibiotic medicine during the early part of the illness. Pertussis can be prevented with DTaP and Tdap shots.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


Pertussis is very easily spread to others. If your child has not had the DTaP shots, he may get pertussis. Pertussis may cause other serious health problems, most often in babies younger than 1 year. Your child could get pneumonia or an ear infection. Rarely, it may affect your child's brain. This could cause your child to have seizures, which may lead to brain damage. This can be life-threatening.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.


Your child will be kept away from others to prevent him from spreading the disease. Healthcare providers and others around your child will wear a face mask and gown. Visitors should wash their hands before leaving to prevent the spread of germs.


  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your child's foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

  • A heart monitor is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your child's skin record his heart's electrical activity.

  • Vital signs include your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. These will be checked regularly by healthcare providers. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give healthcare providers information about your child's current health.


  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling, pain, or fever.

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever.

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.


  • Blood gases are also called arterial blood gases (ABGs). Blood is taken from an artery, usually in your child's wrist. ABGs may be done if your child has trouble breathing or other problems caused by his illness.

  • Blood tests will help your child's healthcare provider find out if he has an infection.

  • A chest x-ray may be done to look for signs of infection, such as pneumonia.


  • Oxygen may be needed if your child's blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Oxygen will help your child breathe easier. Your child may get oxygen through small tubes placed in his nostrils, or through a mask. He may instead be placed in an oxygen tent. Never take off your child's oxygen tubes or mask or remove him from the tent without asking his healthcare provider first.

  • Postural drainage (PD) is a treatment that uses body position and gravity to help bring up sputum (mucus) from your child's lungs. His healthcare provider will place him in different positions to help the sputum drain to larger air passages. Then he can cough it out more easily. Your child's healthcare provider may also lightly clap on your child's back and chest with his hands. He may use a small machine that vibrates on your child's skin. This breaks up the sputum in his lungs. Postural drainage may make it easier for your child to breathe, decrease the chance of infection, and help him get better faster.

  • Suction may also be used. This is a small tube that is placed in your child's mouth or nose. It will help suck out the mucus in your child's mouth or nose. This can help your child breathe easier. Saline drops may be put into your child's nose to loosen some of the mucus. Your child may need his mouth or nose suctioned more than once.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pertussis In Children (Inpatient Care)