Whooping Cough (Pertussis) In Children:

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory tract infection that, most notably, results in a bad cough. The name comes from the “whooping” sound made as the person gasps for air in between coughs. It is highly contagious. It affects people of all ages, however, it is especially concerning for babies under 6 months. 


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Whooping cough starts out like a regular cold. Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and sometimes a low grade fever are all common symptoms. However, about 7-10 days later, the whooping cough appears. These coughing spells can last up to a minute and your child’s face may turn red or purple.


With infants it is common that they do not make this “whooping” sound; and sometimes produce no cough at all. Instead, you will see them gasping for air or vomiting as they experience a fit.


Children with whooping cough, especially those under 18 months, should be watched carefully to ensure a coughing spell does not cause them to stop breathing.


Treatment of whooping cough:


Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics. Cough medicines are not recommended, as they do not heal this type of infection and are not recommended for most children under the age of 6. 


Prevention of whooping cough: 


Fortunately, there is a vaccine available for whooping cough. This is the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine for kids, the TDaP booster for adults and preteens (around age 11-12). Adults are advised to get the booster every ten years, especially those who are around newborns. Mothers can safely receive the vaccine while pregnant and this vaccine also provides passive immunity to the baby before they can receive their first dose at 2 months. 


If you are concerned your child may have whooping cough, you can bring them to MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care, for those living in the L.A. area. Your child will receive quality care from our highly trained staff of doctors and nurses specialized in working with children.