Whooping Cough

What Is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection.
Whooping Cough Symptoms
At first, whooping cough has the same symptoms as the average cold:
• Mild coughing
• Sneezing
• Runny nose
• Low fever (below 102 F)
You may also have diarrhea early on.
After about 7-10 days, the cough turns into “coughing spells” that end with a whooping sound as the person tries to breathe in air.
Because the cough is dry and doesn’t produce mucus, these spells can last up to 1 minute. Sometimes it can cause your face to briefly turn red or purple.
Most people with whooping cough have coughing spells, but not everyone does.
Infants may not make the whooping sound or even cough, but they might gasp for air or try to catch their breath during these spells. Some may vomit.
Sometimes adults with the condition just have a cough that won’t go away.
Whooping cough is caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny germ-laden droplets are sprayed into the air and breathed into the lungs of anyone who happens to be nearby.
When the bacteria get into your airways, they attach to the tiny hairs in the linings of the lungs. The bacteria cause swelling and inflammation, which lead to a dry, long-lasting cough and other cold-like symptoms.
Whooping Cough complications
Whooping cough is dangerous in babies, especially ones younger than 6 months old, because it can keep them from getting the oxygen they need. This can cause:
• Brain damage or bleeding on the brain
• Pneumonia
• Seizures
• Apnea
• Convulsions
In teens and adults, whooping cough can lead to pneumonia. The severe coughing can also cause:
• Abdominal hernias
• Broken blood vessels
• Bruised ribs
• Trouble controlling when you pee
• Trouble sleeping.
Whooping Cough Diagnosis
Because symptoms of whooping cough are a lot like those caused by a cold, the flu, or bronchitis, it can be hard to diagnose it early on. Your doctor may be able to tell that you have it by the sound of your cough, but tests can confirm it.
?Nose or throat culture. A simple swab of the area where your nose and throat meet can be tested for the bacteria that causes whooping cough.
?Blood test. A high white blood cell count is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s whooping cough.
?Chest X-ray. This can show if you have inflammation.
Treatment and Home Remedies
If you find out you have whooping cough early on, antibiotics can help cut down coughing and other symptoms.
They can also help prevent the infection from spreading to others. But most people are diagnosed too late for antibiotics to work well.
Don’t use over-the-counter cough medicines, cough suppressants, or expectorants (medicines that make you cough up mucus) to treat whooping cough. They don’t work.
You can do a few things to feel better and recover faster:
?Get lots of rest. This can give your body more strength to fight the illness.
?Eat small meals as often as you feel up to it.
?Clean air. Keeping the air around you free of dust, smoke, and other irritants can help soothe coughing.
?Drink fluids. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water or juice.
Whooping Cough Prevention
The DTP vaccine can help protect children from whooping cough. Infants should get a dose every other month for the first 6 months, another between 15 and 18 months, then one last time between ages 4 and 6.
Older children and adults need the DTP vaccine and a booster every 10 years because the vaccine can weaken over time. The best age for kids to get it is between 11 and 12. Adults who’ve never had the vaccine can get it any time.
Pregnant women should get a booster to help protect their newborn.
Another important key to prevention is to protect the people around you. If someone in your household has whooping cough, make sure they cover their mouth or cough into their elbow to keep from spreading the bacteria. Wash hands often, and consider having them wear a mask when they’re near others
In conclusion, whooping cough spreads easily, but vaccines like DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)  can help prevent it in children and adults.
Help protect your child by making sure they and any adult who’s around them often get vaccinated.
With treatment, you should slowly start to feel better after about 4 weeks.
Written by: Chinonye Machie

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