Once you become infected with whooping cough, it can take one to three weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • A mild fever
  • Dry cough

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.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor if prolonged coughing spells cause you or your child to:

  • Vomit
  • Turn red or blue
  • Inhale with a whooping sound
Mar. 19, 2013