Whooping Cough

Learning about whooping cough

Whooping cough, officially known as pertussis in the medical world, is a bacterial disease that is both very contagious and potentially dangerous. Simply put, whooping cough is a bacterial upper respiratory infection caused by pertussis bacteria. The reason it's so potentially dangerous is that it can not only cause loss of consciousness and permanent disability, such as brain damage from lack of oxygen, but can also cause death in infants. The disease is easily spread by tiny droplets that are expelled from a sneezing or coughing pertussis patient, and is highly contagious. This can be quite an issue for people with young children.

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Symptoms of whooping cough

There are several key symptoms of whooping cough, beginning with symptoms much like those of the common cold, such as simple sneezing, runny nose, fever, and coughing. Those symptoms then develop into what we know as typical whooping cough symptoms, a violent cough that is not only hard to control, but can make breathing very difficult. One way to tell if the coughing is that of pertussis is by the loud "whoop" noise heard at the end of it as the patient attempts to take a breath. While whooping cough is common in babies and young children, it can affect a person of any age, though the "whoop" sound present in the coughing is typically only seen in babies older than 6 months and very young children.

Whooping cough treatment

Pertussis can be difficult to diagnose, and often is mistaken for pneumonia. Mucus samples are often needed to properly diagnose whooping cough, and once diagnosed, there are fortunately treatments and preventative measures available.

The most common whooping cough treatment, if the infection is found early enough, is the use of antibiotics. However, these are not always effective. Severe cases found in infants might require hospitalization or the use of an oxygen tent to regulate and monitor breathing. The use of cough medicines is not helpful, and should never be attempted. Vaccinations are also available to prevent the spread of whooping cough, and it is recommended that children and even adults who are around small children get them.