Once you become infected with whooping cough, it takes about seven to 10 days for signs and symptoms to appear, though it can sometimes take longer. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Red, watery eyes
After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may:
- Provoke vomiting
- Result in a red or blue face
- Cause extreme fatigue
- End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air
However, many people don't develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough.
Infants may not cough at all. Instead, they may struggle to breathe, or they may even temporarily stop breathing.
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor if prolonged coughing spells cause you or your child to:
Jan. 15, 2015
- Turn red or blue
- Seem to be struggling to breathe or have noticeable pauses in breathing
- Inhale with a whooping sound
- Pertussis frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/faqs.html. Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=331. Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.
- Cornia P, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Bordetella pertussis infections in adolescents and adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.
- Jakinovich A, et al. Pertussis: Still a cause of death, seven decades into vaccination. Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 2014;26:597.
- Yeh S. et al. Bordetella pertussis infection in infants and children: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.
- Yeh S, et al. Bordetella pertussis infection in infants and children: Treatment and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.
- Kline JM, et al. Pertussis: A reemerging infection. American Family Physician. 2013;88:507.
- Tdap vaccine — What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.html. Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.
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