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April 2, 2019 | Family Medicine
You can be infected with whooping cough for seven to 10 days before symptoms occur. It may seem as if you have a cold because the symptoms are similar:
As the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe. You may experience:
Your healthcare provider will want to know if you’ve been exposed to whooping cough as part of the diagnostic process. However, there is a laboratory test that checks the mucus for this disease. Your doctor may also take a blood test in addition to your physical examination.
Treatment for pertussis usually involves antibiotics. The sooner you can begin treatment, the better. Treatment can also prevent you from spreading the disease to other people. Generally, cough medicine does not help, and you should only take them as directed by your doctor.
You can manage some of the symptoms with these home treatments:
Some children require hospitalization if the disease is severe. At the hospital, doctors can suction mucus out of the breathing passages and administer oxygen if needed. Children who aren’t drinking and eating enough due to whooping cough may be given intravenous fluids.
The pertussis vaccine is a series of five injections given to children over six years. The first vaccine is given at 2 months old, then 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and last, at 4 to 6 years old. Immunity from this set of vaccines will begin to wane when the child is about 11 years old. Some doctors recommend a booster shot when the child is older.
Adults can get a combined tetanus and diphtheria vaccine that includes protection against whooping cough. It’s recommended that pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine after 27 weeks of gestation.
The side effects of the whooping cough vaccine are mild compared to the disease. Talk to your doctor about your risk for whooping cough and whether you should get the vaccine.
“Whooping Cough.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/whooping-cough/symptoms-causes/syc-20378973
“Whooping Cough.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/whoopingcough.html
“Pertussis (Whooping Cough).” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/diagnosis-treatment.html
Maria Oneida, MD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.