Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) in children

Treatment for PCD

Treatment of PCD should begin as early as possible to try and prevent permanent damage to the lungs, which results in a condition called bronchiectasis.

Treatment will be provided by a variety of different health care professionals. These include respiratory doctors, physiotherapists, and ear nose and throat specialists.

The aim of treatment for PCD is to improve or maintain normal lung function as far as is possible. This includes treatment of upper and lower airway infections, and also treatment to clear the airways.

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These are used as a treatment when respiratory symptoms or lung function become worse.

Inhaled medication

Inhaled medication can improve symptoms for some children. Your child will be given medication through an inhaler or a nebuliser.

Airway clearance

Airway clearance is used widely in children with PCD. This involves removal of the mucus that builds up through physiotherapy and exercise.


Exercise is encouraged in all ages in order to help children to be generally healthy. Exercise is especially important in PCD as it opens up the airways.


Avoid smoking anywhere near your child and also try and avoid them coming into contact with infections and indoor and outdoor pollutants. We’ve got more information on risks and prevention.


Your child should receive all their childhood immunisations. In addition, they should have a pneumonia jab and yearly flu jabs.

Regular review

Your child should receive a review every year from the specialist PCD service and should be seen in your local hospital for a check-up every 3 months.

Treatments to avoid

Avoid any medicine that stops your child coughing – such as cough syrup. It’s important that your child coughs to help clear their airways.

Will my child need to go to hospital?

Children are sometimes admitted to hospital if they have a chest infection, or if they need particular tests and assessments.

Your child may also need to stay in hospital if they have a respiratory exacerbation, sometimes called a lung attack. They may stay in hospital for up to 2 or 3 weeks at a time. In hospital they may receive antibiotics through a drip and intensive physiotherapy.

If you have concerns or need advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

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Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.