Whooping cough (or Pertussis, the medical term) is caused by a bacterial infection of the respiratory system. Early symptoms mimic the common cold, but severe coughing spells and raspy breathing that makes a “whooping” sound is the most tell tale symptom.
Whooping cough was once responsible for the deaths of approximately 10,000 children each year. Luckily, today a vaccine is available and children can be immunized starting at 2 months of age and continue until the child is about 5 or 6 years old. However, older children and teens can be at risk if their immunizations fade.
Here are eight signs that your child may have whooping cough…
The earliest sign of whooping cough begins approximately 10 days following contamination with typical cold-like symptoms—including sneezing, watery eyes, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and loss of appetite. Your child could experience other cold symptoms, like a mild fever and mild cough as well. The thick mucus that develops from whooping cough can make it difficult to eat and drink, so your child may seem uninterested in meal time. But although it may seem like a side effect of a cold, when your child doesn’t eat or drink anything it can actually be a sign of whooping cough.
Because many of the signs of whooping cough mimic those of the common cold, it can be easy to pass it off as nothing serious and let it run its course. Adults may also get whooping cough and it’s even more common to assume it’s a cold because their reaction to it may not present the same symptoms as a child’s would.