Diagnosing whooping cough in the early stages can be difficult because the signs and symptoms are similar to those of other common respiratory diseases, such as the common cold, flu, or bronchitis.
Sometimes, doctors can diagnose whooping cough simply by asking about the symptoms and listening to the cough. Medical tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. These tests include:
– Examination of the nose or throat. The doctor will take a swab or suction sample from the area where the nose and throat meet (nasopharynx). The sample is then examined for evidence of whooping cough bacteria.
– blood test. A blood sample may be taken and sent to a laboratory to check the number of white blood cells. Because white blood cells help the body fight infections like whooping cough.
A high white blood cell count usually indicates infection or inflammation. This is a general and non-specific test for whooping cough.
– chest X-ray. Doctors take X-rays to check for swelling or fluid in the lungs, which can happen when pneumonia makes whooping cough and other respiratory infections worse.
With regard to treatment, infants are usually hospitalized because whooping cough is more dangerous for this age group.
“If your child is unable to swallow liquids or food, intravenous fluids may be needed. Your child will also be isolated from others to prevent spreading the infection.”
Treatment can usually be done at home for older children and adults.
Giving antibiotics can kill the bacteria that cause whooping cough and helps speed up recovery. Preventive antibiotics may be given to exposed family members.
“Unfortunately, there is not much available for cough relief. For example, over-the-counter cough medicines have little effect on whooping cough and are not recommended.”