A highly contagious respiratory tract infection is called whooping cough or pertussis. It is marked by a severe hacking cough that is followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sound like a whoop.
This is considered as a childhood disease before the vaccine was developed but now it affects teenagers and adults who have low immunity as well as young children to who hve not completed their full vaccinations.
There are deaths that are related to whooping cough but are rare but most common in infants.
It is important for people who have a close contact with an infant and to pregnant women to have a whooping cough vaccination.
It takes about 7 to 10 days for symptoms and signs to appear but sometimes it can take longer once you become infected with whooping cough.
The cause of whooping cough is bacteria. Small germ-laden droplets are sprayed into the air and breathed in to the lungs of anyone in contact when an infected person coughs or sneezes, spreading the germs.
4 Making a Diagnosis
Consult your doctor if you are experiencing the symptoms of whooping cough to receive a diagnosis. Bring a notebook and write down the symptoms that you are experiencing and also the immunizations you or your child had. Write down past medical problems.
Some of the questions that your doctor may ask you include:
When did the cough start?
How long does it last?
Does anything trigger it?
Does it cause vomiting?
Do you have a blue or red face when coughing?
Have you been exposed to anyone with whooping cough?
Your doctor will first conduct a physical exam by using a stethoscope to listen to your lungs. Mostly it is hard to diagnose whopping cough at an early stage because it might be similar to other common respiratory illnesses like flu, cold or bronchitis.
Some tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis are:
a throat and nose culture test – your doctor will take a suction sample from you nasopharynx to check for whooping cough bacteria;
blood test – to check your white blood count who helps in fighting infections, there will be a presence of inflammation or infection if you have a high white blood cell count;
Whooping cough is dangerous for an infant that is why they will likely be hospitalized for treatment.
To prevent infection from spreading, a child will be isolated from others and intravenous fluids will be necessary if a child cannot keep down foods or fluids.
But for children and adults, they can have treatments in their home. Antibiotics might be recommended to speed your recovery and to kill the bacteria but over the counter medicines for cough will only have small effect on whooping cough.
Pertussis vaccine that is mostly given in combination with vaccines against two other diseases (tetanus and diphtheria) is the best way to prevent a whooping cough.
It is best to be vaccinated during infancy and is consist of a series of 5 injections given to kids at these ages (2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, 4-6 years old).
The side effects of the vaccine may be mild and might include:
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