Do adults get Whooping Cough


Although generally we may think of whooping cough occurring in children and younger adults actually whooping cough can occur in people of any age.

If you have had whooping cough in the past, this does not mean that you are now immune to the condition although generally the second occurrence of whooping cough tends to be less severe.

Whooping cough can effect:

  • Babies
  • Young children
  • Older children
  • Adults

Even if you have been vaccinated against whooping cough when you were a child, the whooping cough vaccine can wear off and therefore you still may be affected by whooping cough as you get older.

Is whooping cough contagious?

Yes, if you come into close contact with someone who has the infection then you could catch whooping cough from them. If a person has the condition, they are infectious from about six days after they were infected and when they have just cold like symptoms through until three weeks after the coughing bouts begin.

Antibiotic treatment can reduce the length of time someone is infectious.

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

Initially the symptoms are similar to a cold such as a runny nose, red and watery eyes, sore throat and a slightly raised temperature. About one week later the intense bouts of coughing begin.

  • The bouts usually last a few minutes at a time and tend to be more common at night.
  • Coughing usually brings up thick mucus and may be followed by vomiting.
  • Between coughs, you or your child may gasp for breath – this may cause a “whoop” sound, although not everyone has this.
  • The strain of coughing can cause the face to become very red, and there may be some slight bleeding under the skin or in the eyes.
  • Young children can sometimes briefly turn blue (cyanosis) if they have trouble breathing – this often looks worse than it is and their breathing should start again quickly.
  • In very young babies, the cough may not be particularly noticeable, but there may be brief periods where they stop breathing.

The bouts will eventually start to become less severe and less frequent over time, but it may be a few months before they stop completely.

The above information has been sourced from


SMP Healthcare