Whooping Cough - Night Doctor

Signs & Symptoms of Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

It’s 3:00 AM and your infant is gasping for air at the end of a coughing fit. He has had a cold lately, but this doesn’t sound or look normal. Does your baby have whooping cough? Is this serious?

What is Pertussis/Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough, otherwise known as Pertussis, is a bacterial respiratory infection that causes a dry cough. Other symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, so it can go undetected at first. A runny nose is usually the first symptom, followed by sneezing, mild coughing, and possibly a low-grade fever. If the coughing persists and gets worse after about a week, you may be dealing with whooping cough. This can be particularly dangerous for infants.

What Does Whooping Cough Look and Sound Like in Infants?

Whooping cough in infants may not sound the same as it does in older children and adults. Infants may cough repeatedly until they vomit. They also tend to gasp for air at the end of each coughing spell. This is the danger that whooping cough poses to infants. They must be watched carefully at all times to make sure they don’t stop breathing. Pertussis (or whooping cough) in infants under 6 months of age is particularly dangerous. If your baby is under 6 months old and you suspect whooping cough, you need to go to the doctor or emergency room right away.

*Check the video links below for a demonstration of Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

What Does Whooping Cough Look and Sound Like in Older Children and Adults

Whooping cough in infants may not sound the same as it does in older children and adults. Infants may cough repeatedly until they vomit. They also tend to gasp for air at the end of each coughing spell. This is the danger that whooping cough poses to infants. They must be watched carefully at all times to make sure they don’t stop breathing. Pertussis (or whooping cough) in infants under 6 months of age is particularly dangerous. If your baby is under 6 months old and you suspect whooping cough, you need to go to the doctor or emergency room right away. In the case of emergencies, please don’t wait for your after hours gp and go directly to Emergency.

*Check the video links below for a demonstration of Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

How Long Does a Pertussis Cough Last?

The typical period for whooping cough to run its course is 4 or 5 weeks, but symptoms can sometimes take 6 weeks or more to recede. Adults tend to experience the signs and symptoms of whooping cough the longest. Bacteria enter the airways and follow the pathway into the lungs. There they attach themselves to the tiny hairs in the lung lining. Once attached, they don’t want to leave. It takes weeks of coughing to try to shake them loose.
Thankfully, there is a vaccine to prevent the spread of whooping cough. If you or your child develops this illness, be sure to avoid contact with un-vaccinated friends and family members. The bacteria transmit very easily through coughing and sneezing, so siblings and classmates are easy targets. Antibiotics usually shorten the run time and lessen the symptoms, so a visit to your doctor is a good idea.

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