Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) in children

What is the treatment for PCD?

The aim of treatment for PCD is to improve or maintain normal lung function. On this page we explain the treatments available, including antibiotics, inhaled medication and airway clearance.

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


Which health care professionals will treat my child?

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


What treatments will they have?

Treatments for PCD include treatment of upper and lower airway infections, and also treatment to clear the airways.

  • Antibiotics – these are used as a treatment when respiratory symptoms or lung function become worse.
  • 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 getting rid of the mucus that builds up, through chest physiotherapy and exercise.
  • Exercise – exercise is encouraged for everyone, to help stay healthy. Exercise is especially important in PCD as it opens up the airways.
  • Environment – avoid smoking anywhere near your child, and ask others not to smoke around them. Try to avoid them coming into contact with infections, and indoor and outdoor pollutants. We’ve got more information on risks and prevention here.
  • Vaccinations – 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 have 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.

Your child may also need to stay in hospital if their condition gets suddenly worse. This is called a flare up or exacerbation, or sometimes called a lung attack. They may stay in hospital for up to 2 weeks at a time. In hospital they will receive antibiotics through a drip and intensive physiotherapy.


Further information:

Find out more about the Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia family support group

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 2019. Due for review: September 2022

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.