Whooping Cough | Treatment


What should I do if I have whooping cough?

Your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics to make the cough go away faster, and to help stop the disease from spreading to other people. Because whooping cough is so contagious, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics for your whole family so that it doesn’t spread further.

 People who have whooping cough can spread the infection to others, especially infants and children. They should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Babies younger than 1 year who have whooping cough may need to stay in the hospital because whooping cough can lead to pneumonia and other problems.

You may cough on and off for up to 6 weeks, even with medicine, and you may need to miss time at work or school. Your doctor can tell you when it’s okay to go back to work or school.

Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications for coughing will not help with whooping cough. You should try to get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of fluids like water or soups so that you don’t get dehydrated. You can try using a cool-mist humidifier or taking a warm bath or shower to help clear the lungs and make breathing easier. Also stay away from tobacco smoke, lit fireplaces or other areas where the air may not be clean.


Pertussis: A Disease Affecting All Ages by DS Gregory, M.D. (American Family Physician August 01, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060801/420.html)

Funding and support for this material have been provided by GlaxoSmithKline.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 09/06