Whooping cough is an infectious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable coughing. The name comes from the noise you make when you take a breath after you cough. You may have choking spells or may cough so hard that you vomit.
Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is more common in infants and children. It’s especially dangerous for infants. The coughing spells can be so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor may do a physical exam, blood tests, chest x-rays, or nose or throat cultures.
Before there was a vaccine, whooping cough was one of the most common childhood diseases and a major cause of childhood deaths in the U.S. Now most cases are prevented by vaccines. If you have whooping cough, treatment with antibiotics may help if given early.