What is Whooping Cough?
Whooping Cough also know as Pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory tract disease. It exhibits symptoms like a severe cough that is followed by a breath intake that sounds like “whoop”, runny nose, and sneezing as well as nasal congestion. Whooping cough is especially dangerous for babies. Fortunately, this respiratory tract infection can be prevented by the pertussis vaccine. In fact, until the vaccination was developed, whooping cough was considered a common childhood disease. It is highly contagious and spreads through airborne respiratory droplets, skin-to-skin contact, and saliva.
Whooping Cough Symptoms
Once you become infected with pertussis, the symptoms will appear within seven to ten days. It might even take longer in some cases. The initial whooping cough symptoms are mild and often resemble a common cold, like:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Watery, red eyes
However, after a week or two, the pertussis symptoms worsen. The infection causes thick mucus build up in your airways, resulting in uncontrollable coughing fits. These coughing fits may also cause you to:
- Be extremely tired
- The face turns blue or blue
These coughing fits also often end with a high pitched sound “whoop”. However, many people don’t exhibit the characteristic whoop sound. Whooping cough is difficult to diagnose in infants because they do not cough at all. Instead, they exhibit difficulty in breathing and may even stop breathing temporarily.
Who is at Risk?
With the development of the whooping cough vaccine, the number of people at risk of developing this highly infectious respiratory tract infection has gone down. People who are at risk of developing whooping cough include:
- Non vaccinated children
- Epidemic exposure
- Contact with an infected person.
Young infants who have not been immunized are at a higher risk of developing whooping cough. It has also been observed that whooping cough is more commonly seen in developing countries.
Whooping Cough Causes
Whooping cough also called Pertussis is mainly caused by a bacterial infection. It causes the infection to occur in the trachea and the bronchi of the infected person. Once the bacteria reach the inner lining of the airways, it starts multiplying and also prevents the mucus-clearing components in your lungs from working properly. This results in a build-up of thick mucus in your lungs, causing you to cough uncontrollably in an attempt to expel the mucus from your lungs. As the infection gets worse, the airways become narrower, making it harder and harder for the patient to breathe. It is also how the characteristic “whoop” sound is made when the patient tries to breathe normally after a coughing fit. Bordetella pertussis is one of the main whooping cough causes.
How Is Whooping Cough Diagnosed?
Whooping cough diagnosis can be difficult in the initial stages as the symptoms mimic those of other common respiratory illnesses like flu, cold or bronchitis. In order to diagnose whooping cough, doctors will ask about your symptoms and also listen to your cough. They also order the following tests before making a diagnosis:
- Nose or Throat Culture: This whooping cough test involves taking a sample from your nose or throat to check for the presence of the bacteria that causes whooping cough.
- Blood Test: The blood test helps indicate whether there is an increase in the white blood cells which is often an indication of an infection or an inflammation.
- Chest X-Ray: A chest X-ray is helpful in determining whether there is any inflammation or fluid build-up in your lungs.
Once you have been diagnosed you can get started on the whooping cough cure.
How is Whooping Cough Treated?
Whooping cough treatment for infants often involves hospitalization as here at a higher risk of developing complications from this disease. Fortunately, older children can be treated for whooping cough at home itself. Depending on the type of whooping cough you have fallen victim to, doctors will prescribe whooping cough medicine and antibiotics to help with the coughing as well as other symptoms. With Cure.fit’s home healthcare services, you can also book an online video consultation with top doctors or pediatricians. You no longer have to leave your home to see a doctor.
How can Whooping Cough be Prevented?
The best whooping cough prevention is to get vaccinated. The vaccination works on babies, children, teenagers, pregnant women, and adults. However, medical professionals also advise keeping babies and people with low immunity away from patients infected with pertussis. At the end of the day, getting yourself vaccinated is the easiest way to steer clear of this nasty disease.