Complications in Children
Many infants who get pertussis must be hospitalized. In rare cases it can be life threatening. Some of the complications for young infants and children can include:
- vomiting after a coughing spell
- weight loss
- breathing problems
- choking spells
- brain damage
When to call your doctor?
Your child should be seen by a doctor immediately if you think your child has pertussis or has been exposed to someone with pertussis or if he or she experiences any of the following warning signs:
- long-lasting coughing spells that make your child's skin or lips turn red, purple, or blue
- coughing followed by vomiting
- whooping sound when your child breathes in after coughing
- difficulty breathing or brief periods of not breathing (apnea)
- lethargy (no energy)
- not drinking enough fluids, hasn’t passed urine) in many hours, or has no tears when he/she cries
In older children and adults, the disease is usually less serious, and complications are rare. The only sign of infection may be a bad cough that lasts longer than a week. Older members of a household may have pertussis without knowing it. This can be a serious risk to younger children and infants in the home who are unvaccinated, or who haven’t yet completed their full schedule of vaccinations.