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Whooping Cough | Pertussis Signs and Symptoms

Whooping cough or pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease which causes an infection in the respiratory tract.  Whooping cough results in less than thirty deaths each year in the U.S., due to widespread vaccination programs.  Infants under six months of age and children between the ages of eleven and eighteen are at the highest risk for contracting whooping cough.  We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of whooping cough, or pertussis below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Whooping Cough | Pertussis include:

The first signs and symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a cold:

  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Mild cough
  • Sneezing
  • Red eyes

After about one to two weeks, the signs and symptoms of whooping cough worsen.  The cough evolves into coughing spells that can last from one to two minutes.  The coughs come in spells of five to ten coughs at a time, followed by a high-pitched “whooping” sound at the end as the child struggles to catch a breath.  In older children, the sound is more of a gasp than a whoop.  The coughing fits may result in vomiting, and the child may turn red or blue in the face.  This stage can last two to eight weeks or longer.  The coughing fits slowly lessen in intensity and duration over time.

Diagnosis of Whooping Cough | Pertussis

A diagnosis of whooping cough or pertussis can be difficult because the symptoms resemble those of a common cold.  A trained medical practitioner can usually diagnose whooping cough based on the sound of the cough.  Tests to confirm the diagnosis can be a throat swab to test for whooping cough bacteria and a chest x-ray.

Books for Parents of Children With Signs and Symptoms of Whooping Cough

Whooping-Cough Cured with Pertussin, Its Homoeopathic Nosode
John Henry Clarke
Whooping Cough – A Journey Towards Truth
Paul Day

Whooping Cough – A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide to Internet References
ICON Health Publications
Whooping Cough (It’s Catching)
Elizabeth Laskey

Whooping Cough Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

What you need to know about whooping cough.

  • Whooping Cough . Net

Information for lay and professional people. Emphasis on how to diagnose it without lab tests. Download a sound file of typical whooping cough. Email the author for more information.

  • Kids Health . org

Article for parents, children and teens.

  • Experience Project

Do You Have Whooping Cough? Join friendly people sharing true stories in the I Have Whooping Cough group. Find support forums, advice and chat with groups who share this experience.

  • About . com

Learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for pertussis or whooping cough … Iannelli, M.D. Pediatrics Guide.

  • Better Medicine

Information including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, causes, videos, forums, and local community support.

Medical Resources

  • Pub Med Health

Reviews causes, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, prognosis and complications.