Pertussis mainly affects infants, un-immunized children and elderly adults. Complications include pneumonia, ear infection, vomiting and dehydration if left untreated. Whooping cough may not be diagnosed in adults because the typical signs, especially the “whoop” part of the cough, maybe not be present.
Doctors usually diagnose whooping cough by taking a swab of mucus from the back of the throat or nose. They may also order a blood test.
Early treatment is important, because it can help prevent the spread of disease to other people, especially infants, who are highly susceptible to the illness.
Whooping cough is usually treated with antibiotics, which can help reduce the severity or length of time it takes to recover from the illness. However, antibiotics aren’t likely to help if the cough has persisted for more than two to three weeks.
Taking cough medications probably will not help ease symptoms. The CDC advises against taking cough medicine unless instructed by your doctor.