April 14, 2015

Whooping cough can be divided into 3 stages.

Initial stage (catarrhal stage)

During this stage, symptoms include:

  • a runny nose
  • sneezing
  • slight fever
  • a mild irritating cough.

This stage is when you’re most infectious. It lasts 1 or 2 weeks.

Second stage (paroxysmal stage)

Coughing fits (paroxysms) are the main symptom in this stage. A paroxysm is a spasm of coughing followed by a big breath in or high-pitched ‘whoop’ in children. Babies and adults generally don’t have the high-pitched ‘whoop’.

Babies and young children often appear very ill, and may turn blue and vomit from coughing so much.

This stage usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks but can persist for up to 10 weeks.

Third stage (convalescent stage)

During this stage, the cough gradually gets better. After several weeks the cough disappears. However, for months you may still get coughing fits whenever you get a respiratory infection like a cold.

When to see your doctor

See your doctor if you think you or a family member may have whooping cough, particularly if they:

  • have prolonged coughing spasms
  • turn blue while coughing
  • cough with a whooping sound.

In babies whooping cough is very serious and may require hospitalisation.

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