Patient Comments: Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Experience

Please describe your experience with whooping cough (pertussis).

Comment from: tom, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 23

I have had whooping cough for 2 to 5 months. It started like tonsillitis and after a week I got that terrible cough, during one night I even broke a rib. The worst cough lasted for about 3 weeks, when I had the spasms, vomited and gasped. But from the very beginning I have had a terrible laryngitis, my voice almost does not exist, I am terribly hoarse. The doctor told me I have swollen vocal cords. I still cough a lot although without the spasms, but I have lots of mucus in my larynx.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: McKenna, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 05

My 9 year old daughter has pertussis. She's around 7 weeks into the illness now and recovering. She was diagnosed TODAY by a specialist at a larger hospital and it was the same situation as others have described. She started with what our doctor thought was a cold, her asthma symptoms acted up that I had her sleep in bed with me so I could literally keep her breathing at night by propping her up and having the nebulizer ready when she opened her eyes. It was the most terrifying time. After several tests, antibiotics, medicines, and an immunology test (finally) we found out what it was. My oldest daughter now has the same symptoms and she's 19. She's around week 3 with the illness and our doctor is now treating her as well. I have a more mild case and am around week 3 also. We are all on Zithromax and my daughters are also on steroid inhalers. None of us had the "classic" whooping sound while coughing. Just a lot of strong coughing spells that cause us to breath in with a sucking sound, and lots of mucus that is choking. It's very difficult at night or immediately after eating. My children are not vaccinated against the illness b/c our doctor at the time my oldest had her vaccine told us not to due to her having a severe reaction to the first vaccine. He told us that biological siblings should not get the vaccine either since they could have the same reaction and have neurological complications. So here we are, trying to recover.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 05

I contracted whooping cough in 2002. At first I thought it was just a cold, and treated symptoms with OTC medications. After about a month, I went to my doctor who diagnosed "respiratory infection". I was put on antibiotics. It didn't help. After about another month, I again went to my doctor, who again diagnosed "respiratory infection" and told me it would just take time. Another course of antibiotics, and not much change. It finally cleared up after approximately five months. I didn't even realize that I had had whooping cough until about a year later when I read in the newspaper about a small "outbreak" of whooping cough in my state. Symptoms were severe enough that I would sometimes vomit after or at the end of a coughing fit. What finally clued me in was the signature "whoop" at the end of a coughing fit when I could finally breathe again, and would dramatically inhale. I was 48 years old at the time - I had had the vaccination as a child; apparently it wears off after nearly 50 years - imagine that. Since I have fibromyalgia, an autoimmune disease, my immune system is depressed, and had I known it was necessary, I would have had a booster. I still have problems with my lungs, and seem to catch every respiratory disease that is "going around" at the time.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: darcemc, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 05

I was admitted into the ICU on July 31st due to an uncontrollable cough that the ER Dr, and myself, believed to be related to my asthma. After 5 days of being in the ICU I was transferred to a regular medical floor and then tested for pertussis which came back positive. 6 days later I was released from the hospital. Since then I have been miserable. I have 4 broken ribs, horrible coughing spells which frequently results in either throwing up or syncope, and severe chest, abdominal and back pain. I was a pediatric nurse and had to switch jobs as there was no way that I could return to work with the way I am feeling. I just started my new job behind the scenes in healthcare on Wednesday. I had to leave training early yesterday due to passing out after a bad coughing fit. At this point I feel as though this is never ending. I am super frustrated and very scared. That feeling of not being able to get a breath in gets me every time. I have taken 2 rounds of antibiotics and now have a fever again which started yesterday, body aches, fatigue, headaches, etc.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: 5 weeks n hating it, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 05

I had no idea that an Adult could get "Whooping Cough", thinking it was a child's disease, hence why children get vaccinated. After what I call an intense but short cold/flu like experience, I started to cough in the first week, that turned into extreme fits to the point where I nearly blacked out! Each inhale of breath had this weird noise. My doctor had no idea, in fact it is so surprising to find out that the majority of "whooping cough" cases are misdiagnosed by doctors! I searched online, and found a site by a UK Doctor that specializes in Whooping Cough (Pertussis). There were some recordings on their and to my amazement they sounded exactly like me... No Doctor has ever told me that I need to be reinoculated for Whooping cough, had I known that I would have made sure. It is a dreadful disease, that can make one tense and on tender hooks all the time. The worst thing is that you never know when it will strike! On several occasions I have had bouts where I vomit with no control over the reflex, so I can be anywhere cough and just vomit. Can you imagine how embarrassing that when just walking down the street. I am now in week 4 or 5 of the disease, and my bouts are sitting around 5 to 10 times a day. Where they were around 15 to 25 times a day at the height of the disease. First thing in the morning I will have 2 to 3 severe bouts. Then 2 or 3 through the day a couple in the evening and I will have 4 at night that wake me up violently. I have an excessive amounts of saliva and clear looking phlegm that can build up so quickly. Generally speaking I am well, apart from being annoyed at having a disease that could have been easily prevented. As I have read there does not seem to be a lot I can do to relieve this. There are occasions that I can semi-control the fit, if I am quick enough to catch the first spasm. I can quickly exhale along a "silent" coughing spasm to happen, then I slowly draw air through the nose. This is extremely hard and sometimes the bodies reflex will automatically gag for air, and then it's back to the sever bout and "salty the sea lion" cough. I am still searching for a way to relive the symptoms. However I can say; Avoid dairy products (as these can line the throat, and cause mucous); Avoid any food that lines the throat such as chocolate, or items that are harsh and scratch the throat for instance toast, or crisp breads. I have found that these can almost instantly cause a feeling of wanting to cough. Keep hydrated, avoid air conditioning as they certainly causes the throat to dry out really quickly especially at night. Pray that more Doctors are wiser to this disease!

Was this comment helpful?Yes

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with whooping cough?
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Vaccine Question: Did your child receive the whooping cough (pertussis)? If not, why? If yes, were there any side effects?
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, including medication, were used for your child's whooping cough (pertussis)?

Patient Comments are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on MedicineNet. The opinions expressed in the comments section are of the author and the author alone. MedicineNet does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Alert If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.


Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.