Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Topic Overview
What are the symptoms? continued...
In stage 3, you still have symptoms, but you feel better and grow
- The cough may get louder.
- Coughing fits may happen off and on for weeks.
- Coughing fits may flare up if you get a cold or have a similar
- This stage may last longer if you have never had the
Adults and older children usually have milder
symptoms than young children. How bad your symptoms are also depends on whether you've had the vaccine and how long ago it was.
Symptoms of whooping
cough usually last 6 to 10 weeks, but they may last longer.
How is whooping cough diagnosed?
Your doctor will
ask you about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To rule out other health problems, he or she may
order tests such as a chest X-ray or blood tests.
It can sometimes be hard to diagnose
whooping cough, because you may seem healthy between coughing episodes.
Your doctor may take a sample of mucus from your nose and have it tested for
the bacteria that cause whooping cough.
How is it treated?
Whooping cough is usually treated with antibiotics. These medicines make it less likely that you will
spread the disease. Also, if you start taking the antibiotics when you first get
whooping cough, the disease may not last as long. Family members and other close contacts may be prescribed antibiotics before they have any symptoms.1
Babies, especially those younger than 4 months, usually are treated in the hospital. This allows the doctor to see
how well the baby deals with and recovers from coughing spells. It also makes it easier for the baby to get extra oxygen and other care if needed.
To avoid spreading the illness:1
- Children with whooping cough need to take antibiotics for at least 5 days before going back to day care or school. If your child didn't take antibiotics, wait 21 days after the start of symptoms before sending your child to school or day care.
- Adults or teens with whooping cough need to take antibiotics for at least 5 days before being near young children or going to work at a school, a day care center, or a health facility.