Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Topic Overview
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
How is whooping cough diagnosed?
Your doctor will
ask you about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He or she may
order tests to rule out other health problems. Your doctor may ask if you have
had the necessary shots.
It can sometimes be hard to diagnose
whooping cough, because a person appears healthy between coughing episodes.
Your doctor may take a sample of mucus from your nose or throat and have it tested for
the bacteria that cause whooping cough.
How is it treated?
You may be given
antibiotics. These make it less likely that you will
spread the disease. If you start taking the antibiotics when you first get
whooping cough, the disease may not last as long.
usually are treated for whooping cough in the hospital so the doctor can see
how well the baby deals with and recovers from the coughing.
Over-the-counter medicines, such as cough syrups, have
not been shown to help whooping cough. You can increase your comfort by using a
humidifier and getting enough fluids.
Can whooping cough be prevented?
Immunizations can prevent whooping cough or reduce how bad it is. Children, starting at age 2 months, need a series of shots to protect against whooping cough. Children ages 11 and older and adults up to age 65 need one booster shot. This booster shot is also recommended for adults of any age who have or expect to have close contact with babies younger than 1 year old. Caregivers who never got the shots-and may not even know that they have the illness-can spread whooping cough to babies and to other people who aren't protected.
Washing your hands
often and staying away from people who have a bad cough may help you avoid
getting the disease.
If you get whooping cough, you can avoid
spreading it by taking antibiotics and waiting the right amount of time before
you and your children go back to school or work:
- Children with whooping cough need to take
antibiotics for at least 5 days before going back to day care or school. If
your child did not take antibiotics, wait 21 days after the start of symptoms
before sending your child to school or day care.1
- Adults or teens
who have 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
Frequently Asked Questions