Whooping Cough - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by the bacteria Bordetella Pertussis. It causes uncontrollable bouts of cough that make it difficult to breathe. In many people, it causes severe hacking cough, followed by high pitched breath intake that sounds like a whoop. It can occur in any age group, but mostly it affects children. If pertussis occurs in infants, it can be deadly. 

 

Whooping cough can be prevented by getting yourself vaccinated against it on time. Before the discovery of the vaccine, it was a major cause of death among children. However, now, deaths due to it are very rare. But if your child is left unvaccinated, they can get infected. Therefore it is a must to get them vaccinated against it at the right time. Also, make sure that people who have a close interaction with your newborn ( including the mother) are vaccinated against it. 

 

Symptoms 

 

The symptoms of whooping cough at first resemble that of the common cold. Upon getting infected, it takes 7 to 10 days to appear. However, sometimes it may take longer. It causes uncontrollable bouts of cough that make it difficult to breathe. In many people, it causes severe hacking cough, followed by high pitched breath intake that sounds like a whoop. However, sometimes it may not cause the whooping sound. At times, it may only cause hacking cough. The signs and symptoms of pertussis are;

 

  • Runny nose

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Nasal congestion

  • Red, watery eyes

 

After the passage of one to two weeks, the symptoms may become worse. Prolonged cough can lead to;

 

  • vomiting

  • blue or purple skin around the mouth

  • dehydration

  • breathing difficulties

 

These symptoms can be accompanied by a low-grade fever. Sometimes infants may not even cough. They may have difficulty breathing or may even stop breathing.  

 

Causes 

 

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by the bacteria Bordetella Pertussis. A healthy person can catch it if an infected person coughs or sneezes and you breathe in the same air.  

 

Complications 

 

Whooping cough can lead to complications, especially in infants. Therefore they should be monitored closely. It can lead to complications like;

 

  • Pneumonia 

  • Seizures 

  • Bleeding in the brain

  • Brain damage

  • Apnea-slowed or stopped breathing

  • Convulsions 

  • Death 

 

 

In older children and people, it can lead to;

 

  • urinary incontinence- loss of bladder control

  • pneumonia

  • difficulty sleeping

  • rib fracture

 

Prevention 

 

The only way to prevent whooping cough spread is that everyone should get vaccinated. You must get your newborn infant vaccinated against it at;

 

  • 2 months

  • 4 months

  • 6 months

 

After that, they need booster shots at the ages;

 

  • 15 to 18 months

  • 4 to 6 years and again at 11 years old

 

Not only children are vulnerable to it. Even adults can get infected. Therefore you must get yourself vaccinated if it has been more than 10 years. According to experts, the immunity provided by the vaccine in childhood wears off over time. So, you must get it again in your adulthood. Moreover, you must get vaccinated if;

 

You remain in a close environment with infants and children

  • Are above the age of 65

  • Are a healthcare provider

 

 

Conclusion 

 

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by the bacteria Bordetella Pertussis. It causes uncontrollable bouts of cough that make it difficult to breathe. In many people, it causes severe hacking cough, followed by high pitched breath intake that sounds like a whoop. It can occur in any age group, but mostly it affects children. If pertussis occurs in infants, it can be deadly. 


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