Treatment for whooping cough in adults involves taking a regimen of antibiotics, generally erythromycin or an antibiotic in the erythromycin family, according to WebMD. Azithromycin, clarithromycin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxasole are other options, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early treatment of whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, is important, notes the CDC. Early treatment prior to the commencement of the characteristic coughing fits that accompany pertussis can make the infection less severe. Similarly, early treatment also prevents the spread of disease to close contacts of the infected person. However, if treatment does not begin within three weeks of the infection, the antibiotics may not be effective. This is because the pertussis bacteria have already passed from the body, although symptoms may remain.
Those with pertussis are infectious to those around them from the beginning of the condition’s catarrhal stage, up until the third week after paroxysms begin or until five days after the commencement of treatment, according to the CDC. The catarrhal stage is the stage in which symptoms of the common cold are observed, including low-grade fever, sneezing and runny nose, up until the third week after paroxysms begin. Paroxysms are the multiple rapid coughs that earned whooping cough its famous moniker.