Whooping Cough | Diagnosis & Tests


How can my doctor tell if I have it?

Whooping cough usually starts like a cold, with a runny nose, sneezing and maybe a mild cough or fever. But after 1-2 weeks, you can have severe attacks of coughing that can be a problem for another 1-6 weeks. Your doctor may ask you what your cough sounds like and what happens after you cough. Your doctor may want to listen to your cough.

You may need special tests to tell for sure if you have whooping cough. In one test, your doctor will swab the inside of your nose or your throat and the swab is then sent to a laboratory. Your doctor may also want to take a chest X-ray or a blood sample.


Pertussis: A Disease Affecting All Ages by DS Gregory, M.D. (American Family Physician August 01, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060801/420.html)

Funding and support for this material have been provided by GlaxoSmithKline.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 09/06