Whooping Cough in Children: Symptoms & Treatment

Whooping Cough in Children

Whooping cough (Pertussis) is a highly transmissible respiratory tract infection common in children. It is also called a “hundred-day cough” that occurs in three stages and can last for weeks to months. The most markable symptom of Whooping cough in children is a severe cough followed by a “whooping” sound of breathing. The main cause behind this disease is the Bordetella Pertussis bacteria. The Pertussis vaccine can help prevent this illness, but no one is sure about its 100% effectiveness.

Before the development of the vaccine, Whooping Cough was considered a childhood disease. But now, it mostly affects infants who are not vaccinated and teens and adults with weak immunity. It can be fatal, especially in the case of infants. So, pregnant women and others coming in contact with the baby should be extra cautious.

The sickness often shows up as a common cold, with a runny nose, sneezes, and a mild fever. It’s an uneasy situation for babies as they are unable to eat, drink or breathe properly. These coughing spells can last for weeks. It has a worse effect on children below the age of one. It is a very contagious disease and can spread through coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with infected people.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough in Children:

Symptoms can be seen in 1 to 3 weeks after coming in contact with the bacteria. They show in three stages. The first stage of whooping cough can last in one-two weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Mild coughing
  • Low fever
  • Runny nose
  • a pause in breathing in babies (Apnea)
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Red-watery eyes

The second stage generally lasts for 1 to 6 weeks or sometimes takes ten weeks to end. Symptoms included:

  • Severe spells of cough that gets worse at times
  • Cough can start while feeding, crying, or playing
  • Dry and rough cough
  • Cough that ends with a whooping sound while inhaling
  • Being exhausted after each coughing spells

The child may start vomiting while coughing; it can make them hard to breathe. They may feel suffocated.

The third stage that is recovery stage, may last from weeks to months:

  • Vomiting and the whooping cough stop.
  • The frequency of coughing decreases, but coughing may occasionally show for the next one to two months.

Symptoms differ for each child. In infants, the cough is hard to hear. There may be a short pause in breathing (apnea) instead of a cough. If your child shows any of these symptoms, quickly consult a doctor. 

There may be some other health conditions responsible for these symptoms also. Doctors will find that out after a diagnosis. This may include a mucus test and a physical test.

How to Treat Whooping Cough in a Child?

Whooping Cough treatment in children depends on several factors like symptoms, age, and physical fitness. It also depends on the severity of the disease in children. In some cases, your child may need to get hospitalized for treatment. They need this for monitoring and caring closely by the doctors.

Sometimes the patient needs oxygen and IV (Intravenous) fluids till they recover. Antibiotics work best provided in the early phase of the disease. Also, antibiotics help in preventing the transfer of the disease to others. Everyone who comes in close contact with the patient has to take an antibiotic. Antibiotics are necessary even if they are vaccinated.

Treatment of Whooping Cough at home includes:

  • Keeping your child warm every time.

  • Feed them light and small meals often.

  • Their diet must include plenty of fluids.

  • Try to avoid smoke or incense sticks that cause coughing.

Regularly consult with your child’s healthcare provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all the medicines.

Are Vaccines Effective in Whooping Cough?

We can’t say that it is 100% effective, but it can prevent Whooping Cough in children. Most of the whooping cough cases have appeared in the place where vaccines are not provided to everyone. But there is a probability of catching disease even after vaccination. Also, teens and adults who don’t take the booster dose may get affected during the outbreak. People with weak immunities get affected easily by whooping cough.


Some serious complications of whooping coughs include lung infection (pneumonia). Its worst effects appear in small children. It can cause bruised or cracked ribs, abdominal hernias, damaged blood vessels in the skin in teens and adults.

In infants, whooping cough causes pneumonia, brain damage, dehydration, slowed or stopped breathing, seizures, and weight loss.

When You Should Call a Doctor?

One should not overlook the Whooping cough symptoms is a child and must consult a child specialist. You must consult a doctor to avoid the situation worse day by day, new symptoms appear, and breathing difficultly. 

The Ask Vaidya online consultation App is handy for you during a pandemic when it is difficult to reach out to doctors. It is a doctor appointment app where you can get consultations from certified doctors and stay healthy. Now doctors are available at your fingertips. All you have to do is book an appointment or call them. Lastly, I hope that this article helps! Take care and stay safe!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Online Consultation From Best Doctors

Ask Vaidya Has Launch

Covid Care Package

For Home Isolated Patients