Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that affects the respiratory system. It is characterized by severe spells of cough which may end with a whooping sound.  It is a contagious disease and can spread easily through sneeze and snot. Getting immunized with vaccines like the DTaP help prevent the condition.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that affects the respiratory system. It can easily spread and vaccines such as the DTaP help prevent the condition. It usually occurs in infants less than 6 months old because they are yet not immunized and in children above 11-years-old because their immunization has begun to fade.

Whooping cough is a contagious disease which can spread through body fluids like sneeze and snot. When a child is in close proximity to an infected person who coughs or sneezes, the child may get infected if it inhales the bacteria.


Whooping cough is characterized by severe spells of cough which may end with a whooping sound. The initial symptoms of whooping are the same as that of the common cold. Some other symptoms may also occur though.

  • Mild fever
  • Sneezing and a runny nose
  • Cough
  • Vomiting (Due to severe coughing spells)

It is, however, to be noted that not all children show the characteristic whooping symptom. Infants may not whoop and cough like older kids, it will look like they are gasping for air and their face may turn red or purple.  The symptoms begin to appear usually 7 to 10 days after contracting the infection. However, it may also take longer for the symptoms to occur in some children.

Diagnosing Whooping Cough

The pediatrician will take a physical examination, a medical history of the infected child and may initiate a chest X-ray and some blood tests. The doctor will also collect throat and nose mucus samples and test them in the lab for bacterial action.

Treating Whooping cough: Once the diagnosis of whooping cough is confirmed, the pediatrician will start the child on a course of antibiotics. If the diagnosis is made at an early stage, it is easier to treat the infection, shorten its duration and reduce the contagiousness. Infants are more at risk of contracting pneumonia due to whooping cough. So, the pediatrician may suggest hospitalization for some. If the child has difficulty breathing, he may be required to be given oxygen. In case of any signs of dehydration and poor eating, the child may also be administered IV fluids

It takes more than a month’s time for the whooping cough to get completely treated.


If a whooping cough child is being treated at home, ensure proper hygiene of the child, his items of use and the immediate surroundings. The child might not be eating much so try giving him frequent and smaller meals. Avoid any irritants like tobacco smoke that may trigger coughing spells. Take measure to prevent the spread of whooping cough to other family members by keeping the child’s general items of use like towels, linen and utensils separate.

Preventing Whooping Cough

The best way to prevent a whooping cough infection is to get immunized through a vaccine. Pregnant mothers are also administered with the DTaP vaccine and older kids whose immunization has begun to fade may be administered a booster shot.

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