Whooping Cough | Symptoms, Causes, Home Remedies & Treatment

Coughing with cold is common with changing weather and mild cold, but sometimes the cough is persistent and lasts for a long time. If you have shortness of breath while coughing and a strange sound comes along with it, then these may be symptoms of whooping cough. This is a serious problem, which can have many serious consequences. In this article of Myhealthopedia, we will make you aware of all the facts related to whooping cough and will also give you information about the treatment of whooping cough.

What is Whooping Cough (Pertussis) ?

Whooping Cough, or Pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is characterized by severe coughing fits, often accompanied by a “whooping” sound during inhalation.

Whooping cough is a dangerous disease because it is contagious, that is, the virus of this disease reaches from one person to another through the air. It is a respiratory disease. Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. It is believed that whooping cough is a disease of children but it is not so. It also happens to elders. 

Whooping cough is a respiratory tract infection caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, which is passed from person to person through droplets in the air through coughing and sneezing. This infection causes uncontrolled coughing and shortness of breath. Although pertussis infection can happen to anyone, newborns and children are the most affected by it. Coughing makes it difficult for babies to eat, drink and even breathe at times. The condition usually begins with a persistent dry and irritating cough and progresses rapidly. This is usually followed by a characteristic ‘hoo-hoo’ or whooping sound, which is why, the condition has got the name whooping cough. 

Other symptoms include runny nose, fever and vomiting followed by cough. This cough lasts for about three months (its other name is ‘hundred days cough’). Recovery from whooping cough can be gradual. However, this cough may recur with respiratory infections even after it subsides or ends. The disease usually begins with cold-like symptoms.

Whooping cough mainly has three stages :

First stage :

This stage can last for one to two weeks. It is also called catarrhal. During this, there is a runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and sometimes a cough. It looks like a common cold in the first phase, but later the cough becomes more severe.

Second Step :

This is called paroxysmal. Cough is more in this stage. There is a loud noise while coughing. Vomiting may also occur during this and the victim may feel exhausted in the body.

Third step :

This stage can last from seven to twenty days. This is called the convalescent (recovery) phase. During this, the disease gradually gets better with the help of treatment.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough

Symptoms of whooping cough usually appear between six and twenty days after infection with the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. This delay is known as the incubation period. Whooping cough develops in stages, with mild symptoms in the primary stage, followed by more severe symptoms before beginning to improve.

Early Symptoms :

The initial symptoms of whooping cough are often similar to the symptoms of a common cold and include :

  • Runny nose
  • Sneeze
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, irritating cough
  • Sore throat
  • Slight fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling generally ill
  • Watery red eyes with pain
  • Vomiting during or after coughing

These early symptoms of whooping cough may last for one to two weeks before becoming more severe.

Paroxysmal Symptoms :

The second stage of pertussis is often called the paroxysmal stage and involves the development of acute cough symptoms. These episodes are sometimes refer to as ‘paroxysms’ of coughing. Some of its symptoms are as follows:

  • The level of cough is high enough to produce thick mucus .
  • A ‘whoop’ sound with each sharp breath after coughing (although this may not occur in infants and young children, see below).
  • Vomiting after coughing, especially in infants and young children.
  • Fatigue and redness of the face when trying to cough.
  • The duration of each cough usually lasts between one and two minutes, but sometimes the cough can be very quick and last for several minutes.
  • The number of coughs each day varies, but is usually between 12 and 15.

Paroxysmal symptoms of whooping cough usually last for at least two weeks, but they can last longer after treatment.

Causes of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria. Pertussis is cause by a bacterium known as Bordetella pertussis. This bacterium infects the surface of the airways, primarily the trachea and beyond by dividing the two airways leading to the lungs. When Bordetella pertussis comes into contact with the surface of the airways, it increases in number and leads to the accumulation of thick mucus/mucus. Coughing attacks occur at a rapid pace to get this mucus out of the body. This bacterium causes inflammation in the air passages, causing them to narrow. This causes difficulty in breathing and a whooping sound while breathing is followed by a coughing attack. This bacterium can also be caused by touching the patient, eating together, coming in contact with his cough.

How does whooping cough spread ?

People who have whooping cough remain infected from 6 days after exposure to the bacterium, up to 3 weeks after coughing. Bordetella pertussis is carried by small droplets in the air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread thousands of infected droplets into the air. When they enter someone else’s body through breathing, the bacteria infect their air passages.

Diagnosis of Whooping Cough

If you or your child is experiencing cough and difficulty in breathing for a long time, consult a doctor immediately. The doctor may not be able to detect it in the beginning. Because its initial symptoms are similar to flu and common cold. To diagnose whooping cough, the doctor may ask for the following tests :

1) Throat or Nose Culture Test :

In this, the doctor or nurse will take a sample by putting a swab in your nose and throat, which will be sent to the lab to find out whether Bordetella pertussis bacteria are present in it.

2) Chest X-ray :

The doctor may order a chest X-ray to look for fluid and swelling in the chest.

3) Blood Tests :

Your doctor may order a blood test to find out the white blood cell count in your blood. If the white blood cell count is very high then you are more likely to get this infection.

Treatment of Pertussis

Babies are most prone to whooping cough. Therefore, its treatment is necessary. Its treatment can include the following things :

  • Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics.
  • The patient may be kept in an oxygen tent with high humidity.
  • If needed, fluids can be given through a vein.
  • Sedative medications may be given for sleep.
  • Children below 18 months suffering from pertussis can be kept under constant doctor’s supervision. If the condition is serious, they may also be admitted to the hospital.
  • In case of whooping cough, one should always eat light food and take a lot of rest. This infection makes the body very weak and also tired. That’s why it becomes very important to take rest.

Prevention Tips for Whooping Cough

The following methods can be adopted to prevent whooping cough :

  • To avoid whooping cough, the most important thing is to get the vaccine related to it.
  • Babies should be kept away from people who have whooping cough as well as being vaccinated.
  • The use of antibiotics medicines can help to avoid its infection. In fact, when a member of the household has whooping cough, the doctor may give antibiotics to the rest of the member. Keep in mind, do not take these medicines without medical consultation.
  • Special care should be taken of cleanliness, so that bacteria do not grow.
  • Adults should get tetanus vaccine once in 10 years so that whooping cough does not occur.
  • A pregnant woman should have a pertussis vaccine at 27 to 36 weeks.
  • It is important to stay hydrated, keep drinking lots of water. To soothe the throat, you should drink plenty of warm liquids.

Home Remedies for Whooping Cough

Whooping cough can be reduced to some extent even by staying at home. For its complete treatment it is necessary to visit the doctor. 20 Home remedies for pertussis can help to give some relief from it.

1) Mix equal part sugar in 1 ratti (2 grains) of roasted alum. Feeding this medicine to children twice a day (give double the quantity to elders) cures whooping cough in just 5 days.

Note : If you can take this medicine without water, then it is very good or give 1-2 sips of hot water from above.

2) Burn the Kadali flower (Malabar Melastome) on a tawa and burn it and keep it safe by filling it in a clean glass vial. Whenever there is a velocity of cough, give 4 ratti (8 grains) quantity with honey to the sick child immediately. Immediately after taking the medicine, the velocity of cough will subside. This medicine is the best use against pertussis.

3) Make ash (bhasma) by burning dried leaves of banana. Mix this medicine in honey in the amount of 1 grain for children and 4 grams for adults and lick it thrice a day continuously for a few days.

4) Collect these fibers of BhatKataiya (Whirlwind) (spread kateli, which bears yellow flowers. In between flowers there are thin fibers like saffron) and dry them in shade. Its quantity ranges from 3 to 4 grains. Gargle with 3 grams of excellent honey. Give small children half to 1 grain 5-7 times a day. There will be profit from the first day itself.

5) Give 3 grams of purified coconut oil to a child of 1 year of age thrice a day. I will get rid of whooping cough disease very soon.

6) Garlic is beneficial for treating cold, cold and cough. To get rid of pertussis, peel 5-6 cloves of garlic and chop them finely. Boil them in water. Take steam with this water. By doing this daily, whooping cough ends in 8-10 days.

7) To get relief from whooping cough, grind basil leaves and black pepper in equal quantity. Make small balls of this mixture. Suck it thrice a day. These pills clear the throat by eradicating cough.

8) To get rid of whooping cough in children, soak three or four almonds in water at night. Take off the skins of almonds in the morning. Grind it with one clove of garlic and a little sugar candy. Make small tablets of the prepared paste and feed it to the child. This will give relief in cough. Symptoms of whooping cough usually develop within 5-10 days after being infected. Sometimes pertussis symptoms do not develop for up to 3 weeks.

9) Doctors always recommend drinking turmeric milk in cold, cough and flu. Especially in the corona period, the immune system is strengthened by the consumption of turmeric-milk. For this, drink turmeric milk at night while sleeping. This removes the problem of whooping cough.

10) Ginger is considered a medicine in Ayurveda. Make a paste by grinding ginger and consume it with honey. By doing this remedy, one gets relief from whooping cough.

11) Put a few drops of essential oil in warm water. Take in the steam coming out of the hot water. Apart from this, a light massage of the back and chest can also be done with these oils. Essential oil can be used to reduce pertussis.

12) Put licorice in a cup of water. Boil it in water for 10 minutes, then filter it and pour the water into a cup. Honey can also be added to it for taste, now consume this tea. Licorice can be used as a home remedy for whooping cough. According to research related to this, it can relieve cough as well as help in removing mucus.

13) Squeeze half a lemon in a glass of water, dissolve it well and drink it. You can also add half a teaspoon of honey for taste. Lemon juice can also be used during pertussis. According to a research, honey and lemon can be used to stop cough.

14) Mix salt in a cup of warm water. Use this water for gargling. The benefits of salt-water have also been seen as a home remedy for whooping cough. A research related to this found that anti-microbial properties are found in salt. These properties can be beneficial for reducing the problem caused by bacteria.

15) Dip a green tea-bag in a cup of hot water for 2-3 minutes, add honey to taste, consume it now. Green tea can also be a home remedy for whooping cough. The antiviral properties present in it can be helpful in treating many types of infections including cold and flu.

16) Roast onion and eat it with honey. Alternatively mix onion juice with honey. Keep consuming one teaspoon of this mixture every few hours. In traditional medicine, onions have been use for asthma, bronchitis as well as whooping cough. This property found in onions can help reduce the effects of bacteria that cause whooping cough.

17) Take vitamin-C supplement. Also include foods rich in Vitamin-C in your diet. Vitamin-C can also be use as a home remedy for whooping cough. Research has found that vitamin-C can prove beneficial in the problem of pertussis. Apart from this, according to another research, vitamin-C can be helpful in increasing the body’s immunity, which can increase the body’s internal ability to fight bacteria from pertussis.

18) Soak chamomile in a cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Honey can be add for taste. Drink it as a tea before it cools down. Chamomile tea can be use as a home remedy for whooping cough. It can be use for cough and cold.

19) Soak saffron in a cup of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, add honey to taste and consume it daily. Saffron can be use as a home remedy for whooping cough. In fact, it can help with asthma, cough, pertussis and shortness of breath.

20) You can use liquorice to remove the problem of whooping cough. Liquorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which is effective in boosting immunity. In case of black cough, take 1 teaspoon liquorice powder. Boil it with two cups of water. After this, filter this water and drink it. Drinking liquorice water two to three times a day can provide relief from pertussis.

When should I consult a doctor for whooping cough ?

When home remedies do not work and the following symptoms appear, one should immediately contact the doctor :

  • The color of the skin appears blue, as it indicates a lack of oxygen.
  • Apnea (breathing problem)
  • Tour status
  • High fever
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Dehydration


How is Whooping Cough transmitted?

Pertussis is primarily spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with contaminated surfaces.

Who is most at risk for Whooping Cough?

Infants and young children, especially those who are not yet fully vaccinated, are most susceptible to severe complications from Pertussis. However, adolescents and adults can also contract the disease.

What is the recommended vaccination schedule for Whooping Cough?

The DTaP vaccine is typically administer to infants at 2, 4, and 6 months, with booster shots at 15-18 months and 4-6 years. Adolescents and adults should receive the Tdap vaccine, and pregnant individuals should get a Tdap dose during each pregnancy.

Is Whooping Cough treatable?

Yes, early treatment with antibiotics (usually macrolides like azithromycin) can help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. It is important to seek medical attention promptly, especially for infants and young children.

How long is a person with Whooping Cough contagious?

A person with Pertussis is typically contagious for up to about two weeks after the onset of severe coughing fits, or until they have been on antibiotics for at least five days.

Can someone get Whooping Cough more than once?

Yes, although previous infection or vaccination may provide some level of immunity, it is still possible to contract Pertussis again.

What should I do if I suspect I or my child has Whooping Cough?

If you suspect you or your child has pertussis, seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial, especially for infants and young children.

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