Signs of Whooping Cough in Children and Adults
Unlike a cold, whooping cough symptoms stick around, and within two weeks, the symptoms get worse. Common symptoms of whooping cough during this stage can include:
- Fits of coughing that seem to go on and on
- Severe coughing spells that may end in a "whooping" sound when the infected person inhales
- Severe coughing that leads to vomiting, which may make it difficult for a person to eat or drink
- Skin turning blue during coughing episodes.
In this stage, whooping cough attacks occur more frequently at night, with an average of 15 attacks during a 24-hour period. A person with whooping cough symptoms can appear normal between attacks.
Symptoms during this stage usually last for 1 to 6 weeks but can last for up to 10 weeks.
Infants younger than 6 months of age may not have the strength to have a whoop, but they do experience sudden outbursts of coughing.
During this stage, symptoms may gradually improve, often disappearing within 2 to 3 weeks. However, fits of coughing often return with other respiratory infections for many months after the whooping cough symptoms improve.
Adolescents and adults have accounted for more than half of reported cases of whooping cough in recent years.
Adults and adolescents with pertussis (and those partially protected by the pertussis vaccine) can become infected but often have milder whooping cough symptoms. In some cases, they may have no symptoms at all. Even though the disease may be milder in older people, those who are infected may transmit the disease to other susceptible people, including unimmunized or underimmunized infants. Older people are often found to have the first case in a household with multiple cases of whooping cough.