Understanding Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

whooping-coughPertussis or a whooping cough is a very contagious respiratory tract infection. In many people, it characterized by a severe hacking cough that is replaced by a high-pitched intake of breath that makes the sound similar to a “whoop.”

Before there was a vaccine created, whopping cough was deemed a childhood disease. Today whopping cough primarily affects children too young to have started a completed full course of vaccinations and teenagers and adults who have weakened immunity.

Fatalities related to a whooping cough are also few but principally occurs in infants. This is why it is critical for pregnant women another who have close contact with infants to be, to be vaccinated against whooping coughs.

Symptoms of Whopping Cough

After you have been affected it can take seven to 10 days for signs and symptoms to appear, though it can take longer at certain points. These symptoms are normally mild at the beginning and then begin to resemble those of a common cold such as:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Runny Nose

After a week or two, signs and symptoms can become worse. A thick mucus can accumulate inside the air passageways, triggering uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks can:

  • Provoke vomiting
  • Result in a blue and red face
  • Cause excessive fatigue
  • End with the marked high-pitched “whoop” a cough and sound during intakes of breath.

However, many people will never develop the characteristics of whooping. Someday, a persistent hacking cough will form and is a sign that a child or adult has whooping cough.

Infants may not have have a cough at all, Yet, they may struggle to breathe, or they may even temporarily stop breathing

When to see a doctor:
You should call your doctor when the coughing spells cause you or your child to:

  • Vomit
  • Turn reads or blue
  • Seem to be struggling to breathe, to have noticeable pauses in breathing
  • Inhale with a whooping sound

Cause of Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
A whopping cough is a source of bacteria, When an infected person cough or sneezes, tiny germ-laden droplets are scattered into the air and breathe into the lungs or anyone who happens to be nearby.

Risk Factors

A whooping cough is thought to occur for two primary reasons. A whooping cough is thought to be on the rise for two main reasons. The whooping cough vaccine you received as a child will go away over time. This means most teenagers and adults are susceptible to the infection using an outbreak; they continue to be regular outbreaks.

Also, children are not fully immune to whooping cough until they receive at leat three shots, these means those who are under six months and younger are at the highest risk of contracting the infection.

Complications of Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Teens and adults often recover from whooping cough and no problems. When complications occur, they tend to be side effects of the strenuous coughing such as:

  • Abdominal hernias
  • Broken blood vessels in the skin of the whites of your eyes
  • Bruised or cracked ribs


In infants- especially those under six months of age- complications from a whooping cough are more severe a may include:

  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Pneumonia
  • Slowed or stopped in breathing
  • Weight loss or dehydration due to feeding difficulties

Since infants and toddlers are at the most risk for complications related to a whopping cough, thy are more likely to need treatment in a hospital. Complication can be life-threatening for an infant younger than six months old.

Test and Diagnosis

Diagnosis whooping cough in its early stages can be challenging because the signs and symptoms resemble these of other common respiratory illnesses, such as the flu, cold or bronchitis.

Sometimes, doctors can diagnose whooping cough by listening to a cough and asking about symptoms. Medical test may be needed to confirm a diagnosis, such as a test that may include the following:

A nose and throat culture and test. Your doctor takes a swab or suction specimen from the area where the nose and throat connect (nasopharynx). The sample is then examined for evidence of the present of whooping cough bacteria.
Blood tests – A blood sample may be drawn and sent to a lab to evaluate and check your white blood cell count, since white blood cells assist the body to fight infections, such as whooping cough, a high white blood cells count typically indicates the appearance of infection or inflammation. This is a common test and not specific for whooping cough.
A chest X-ray. You doctor may order an X-ray to check for the presence of inflammation or fluid in the lungs; which can occur when pneumonia complicated whooping cough and other respiratory infections.

Treatments and drugs

Infants are typically hospitalized for treatment because whooping cough is more dangerous for people in this age group. If your child can not keep any food or liquids down, using intravenous fluids may be necessary. Your child should also be isolated from other top prevent the infection from spreading.

Treatment for older children and adults normally can be managed at home.

Antibiotics kill batcrap causing whooping cough and help speed up recovery. Family members may be given preventive antibiotics.

whooping-cough-posterUnoftantlym, not much is available to relieve a cough. Over-the-counter cough medication, for example, has a very little effect on whooping cough and is not recommended.

Lifestyle and home remedies
The Following tips on administering help for coughing spells apply to anyone being treated for whooping cough at home:

You should get plenty of rest, A cool quite and dark bedroom may help you relax and rest better.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water, juice and soups are recommended choices. In children, specifically what for signs of dehydration such as dry lips, crying without tears and infrequent urination.
  • Eat smaller meals. To avoid vomiting after coughing, eat smaller more frequent meals rather than large ones.
  • Clean the air, Keep your home free of irritants that can prompt coughing spells, including tobacco smoke and fumes created fireplaces.
  • Prevent transmission. Cover your cough and wash your hands often, fi you must be around others, wear a mask.

The best way to prevent a whooping cough is with the pertussis vaccine, which physicians frequently give in combination with vaccines countering two other serious diseases – tetanus and diphtheria.
Doctors recommend beginning vaccination during infancy.

The vaccine consists of a series of five injections, typically given to small children at these stages:

  1. 2 Months
  2. 4 Months
  3. 6 Months
  4. 15 Months -18 months
  5. 4 to 6 years

Vaccine Side Effects of the vaccine are usually mild and may encompass the fever, crankiness, headaches, fatigue or soreness at the site of the injection of the vaccine.IMM-1023_PertussisSymptoms7-12-10.indd

Booster shots
Adolescents –Because immunity from the pertussis vaccine tends to and by age 11, doctors recommend a booster shot at that age to protect aginst whooping cough ( pertussis) tetanus and diphtheria.
Adults – Some types of 10-year tetanus and diphtheria vaccine also include protections against a whooping cough (pertussis). This vaccine will also decrease the risk of you spreading whooping cough to infants.
Pregnant women – Health experts now recommend that pregnant women receive the pertussis vaccine between 27 and 26 weeks of gestation. This can also give protection to the infant during the first few months of life.

Health Life Media Team