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Simple Cough or Whooping Cough?

Updated on December 10, 2010

We are living in modern days where we have access to medicine and vaccines that makes us think that we are nearly free from ‘old’ illness like Whooping Cough (Pertussis), my nephew waited over 3 weeks before the Doctors could diagnose him with Whooping Cough, even after being consistently taken to see the Doctor, that is why I decided to write about this subject.

My nephew being just over 1 year old had already his 3 vaccines against Whooping Cough, but my 5 months old baby girl had only 2 and she had started coughing too, so after making an appointment with the Doctor and went straight online and found out few important things:

  • More and more people are getting this illness in the last years all over the world, even after being vaccinated, children being the most affected but many teenagers and adults are getting it too.
  • This illness is serious, people are dying, specially kids, under 6 months babies having a higher risk.
  • The symptoms are (unfortunately) similar to a ’normal’ cold or flu and people start taking incorrect and unnecessary medicines that will not help, so pay attention to the cough sound as it is very characteristic for this illness, hence the name.


Please be attentive to the symptoms:

The first stage of whooping cough is known as the catarrhal stage, which typically lasts from one to two weeks:

  • runny nose,
  • sneezing,
  • low-grade fever,
  • mild, occasional cough, similar to the common cold.

After one to two weeks, the second stage begins with the coughing more severe:

  • There are bursts (paroxysms) of coughing, or numerous rapid coughs, apparently due to difficulty expelling thick mucus from the airways in the lungs.
  • At the end of the bursts of rapid coughs, a long effort to breathing in is usually accompanied by a characteristic high-pitched "whoop" sound.
  • During an attack, the individual may become cyanotic (turn blue) from lack of oxygen.
  • Children and young infants appear especially ill and distressed.
  • Vomiting and exhaustion commonly follow the episodes of coughing.
  • The person usually appears normal between episodes.
  • Paroxysmal attacks occur more frequently at night, with an average of 15-24 attacks per 24 hours.
  • The paroxysmal stage usually lasts from one to six weeks but may persist for up to 10 weeks.
  • Infants under 6 months of age may not have the strength to have a whoop, but they do have paroxysms of coughing.

The third stage of whooping cough is the recovery or convalescent stage and the recovery is gradual.

  • The cough becomes less paroxysmal and usually disappears over two to three weeks
  • Paroxysms often recur with subsequent respiratory infections for many months.

Luckily my baby didn’t get it and my nephew is now at the recovering stage now. This illness takes several weeks to end, so do not wait to contact your Doctor if you are worried about any similar symptomes, even if you think it may be serious or not.

All the best!



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