Whooping cough symptoms
Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by Bordetella pertussis, bacteria that affect the lungs and airways. Understanding the symptoms of whooping cough can help people better protect themselves and those around them.
Understand the risk
Anyone can get whooping cough, at any age. Babies are at the most risk for serious illness, but whooping cough isn’t just for kids. Though complications are sometimes less serious in older age groups, the violent coughing fits are sometimes followed by vomiting and exhaustion and can disrupt sleep for a period of weeks to months.
Press play to hear an adult with whooping cough
Whooping cough in adults
In adults, early-stage whooping cough lasts one to two weeks and looks much like the common cold, with symptoms like runny nose, low-grade fever, and occasional cough.
In its later stages, though complications are less serious in older adults, the violent coughing fits are sometimes followed by vomiting and exhaustion and can disrupt sleep for weeks to months.
Press play to hear a child with whooping cough
Whooping cough in children
In children, early-stage whooping cough looks much like the common cold, with symptoms such as runny nose, mild fever, and occasional cough that last for one to two weeks.
In later stages of whooping cough, children might have rapid coughing fits that follow with a “whoop” sound. Children will sometimes cough so much that they vomit and feel exhausted afterward.
Whooping cough in infants
Whooping cough can cause severe illness in babies. In its early stages, it can look like the common cold, with symptoms like runny nose, mild fever, and occasional cough.
In later stages of whooping cough, babies might have rapid coughing fits followed by a “whoop” sound and become exhausted afterward. But many young infants don’t cough at all, or may also have a pause in breathing, called apnea, and turn blue. You should immediately call for emergency help if that happens.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of whooping cough to help your healthcare professional diagnose it early. Getting the vaccine to help prevent whooping cough can help reduce risk of disease.
Whooping cough has three stages. How long whooping cough lasts can vary from person to person. Whooping cough symptoms may look different in children and adults.
Mild, occasional cough
First 2 weeks
Fits of several rapid coughs, followed by ‘whoop’ sound
Vomiting or exhaustion after coughing fits
Many young infants may not cough at all but instead have a pause in breathing and may turn blue
Lasts 1-6 weeks
Can sometimes extend up to 10 weeks
Susceptible to respiratory infections
Recovery is gradual
Coughing lessens, but fits of coughing may return
Lasts 2-3 weeks
Whooping cough treatments
For people diagnosed with whooping cough, there are treatment options available to help treat the infection that causes the disease. If you or someone in your family is experiencing the symptoms of whooping cough, talk to your doctor right away.