Whooping Cough: Signs And Symptoms

Initial Symptoms

Whooping cough often starts with symptoms similar to those of a common cold, including a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, mild cough, and low-grade fever.

Paroxysmal Stage

After 1-2 weeks, the cough becomes more severe and takes on a characteristic paroxysmal (sudden and intense) pattern. This stage is marked by uncontrollable coughing fits that may last for several minutes.

Whooping Sound

During or after coughing fits, individuals may make a distinctive "whooping" sound as they gasp for breath. However, not everyone with whooping cough will develop this characteristic sound, particularly in older children and adults.

Vomiting or Choking

Coughing fits may be so severe that they lead to vomiting, choking, or difficulty breathing. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to these complications.

Fatigue and Exhaustion

The frequent coughing fits can be exhausting and may lead to fatigue, weakness, and irritability, especially in young children and infants.

Apnea in Infants

Infants with whooping cough may experience brief pauses in breathing (apnea) during coughing episodes, which can be concerning and require medical attention.


Whooping cough can lead to various complications, especially in infants and young children, including pneumonia, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, brain damage, and even death in severe cases.