Whooping cough

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis or the 100-day cough, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In many people, it’s marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a “whoop” Before the vaccine was developed, whooping cough was considered a childhood disease, because it is most common in children. 


APPOTEK can help you with whooping cough.


Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium, Bordetella pertussis. It is a contagious disease that is spread through coughing/ sneezing. The incubation period is 1-2 weeks, sometimes longer. It is most contagious in the first two weeks, before the fits start.


You can get whooping cough even though you are vaccinated, because the vaccine doesn’t provide complete or lifelong protection. However, if you are vaccinated, the symptoms are much milder.


Whooping cough usually starts as a cold with cough, runny nose and sometimes slight fever. But after 1-2 weeks, the cough gets worse and develops into fits. At the end of a cough attack, a whooping sound is heard as the child inhales. Children can cough so violently that they have trouble breathing during the cough fits and they often vomit afterwards. The coughing fits often come when the child is lying down, usually at night. It can take from 1 to 6 weeks before the child slowly starts to get better. But the cough can last even longer.


Children can become seriously ill with whooping cough and have breathing pauses. Children under one year suffer the worst.


Even adults can get whooping cough, but the symptoms are usually less severe.


School attendance: if your child has no more fever, they can attend school. However, it is important that your child does not come in contact with infants or pregnant women.

Prevention and protection

The primary method of prevention for pertussis is vaccination.


Make sure that you drink enough fluid. Liquid makes the mucus thinner and easier to cough up. Sleep more upright than usually, for example, use more pillows.


People with whooping cough who have been in contact with infants or pregnant women should inform their doctor immediately.


Treatment depends on your age and how long you’ve had the infection.


If your whooping cough is severe, or your baby is under 6 months old and has whooping cough, you’ll usually need treatment in hospital.


If diagnosed within 3 weeks of the infection, you’ll be given antibiotics to help stop it spreading to others. Antibiotics may not reduce symptoms.


If you’ve had whooping cough for more than 3 weeks, you’re no longer contagious and do not need antibiotics.


The diagnosis of whooping cough is made through a physical exam and taking samples of mucus in the nose and throat. Infants – younger than 6 months – can become seriously ill with whooping cough. Therefore, it is important to start treatment with antibiotics on time. Antibiotics do not cure the disease, but relieve the symptoms and reduce the risk of it spreading.

When to consult a doctor

Contact your doctor if:


  • you suspect that you or your child have whooping cough
  • you or your child have been coughing for several weeks
  • your child has whooping cough and is feeling worse.


Seek urgent care if your baby has whooping cough.

How APPOTEK can help

Appotek can help you with whooping cough. A nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms, then may prescribe treatment or refer you for further examination. Bear in mind that a physical examination is usually required to make the correct diagnosis. If your baby has whooping cough you should go straight to an emergency room.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.