Whooping Cough (Pertusis)

By Refadoc, Posted on : Sunday, 27 September 2015 - 7:58 am IST

Whooping Cough – Basic Overview

Whooping Cough or Pertusis is a highly contagious condition which is caused due to the infection of the respiratory tract. In most cases, this condition is marked with a severe cough, which is followed by a high pitched sound of the breath just like a whoop and needs immediate attention of a registered medical practitioner.

Before the development of the vaccine, Whooping Cough was thought to be a childhood disease. Whooping Cough is known to affect generally children who are too young to have completed their entire course of vaccination. However, it is also known to affect teenagers or adults with a low immune system.

In infants, Whooping Cough is known to be a fatal condition. That is one of the major reasons why pregnant women are advised to be vaccinated against the condition. 

Causes and Symptoms of Whooping Cough

Bacteria are the leading cause of Whooping Cough. When a person infected with the bacteria sneezes or coughs, the droplets which are laden with the germs are sprayed into the atmosphere. These germs, when inhaled by a healthy person can cause the disease.

Once a person has been infected with the bacteria, it can take up to three weeks for the initial symptoms to appear. The major signs and symptoms of Whooping Cough are as follows:

  •       Running Nose
  •       Nasal Congestion
  •       Red and watery eyes
  •       Dry cough
  •       Vomiting and nausea
  •       Extreme fatigue
  •       Cough with a high pitched whooping sound

It is recommended to seek medical attention if the symptoms are accompanied by vomiting and a whooping sound while inhaling. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Whooping Cough

In the initial stages, whooping cough can be very difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can resemble the signs of other illnesses such as cold or flu. The disease can be diagnosed with the help of medical tests. Such tests are as follows:

  1. Throat Culture and Test: In this test, the doctor takes a nose and a throat swab. This sample is then sent into the lab for the presence of whooping cough bacteria.
  2. Blood Tests: A blood sample can be drawn and can be sent into the lab in order to check for the presence of the white blood cells. The white blood cells are found in the body in order to fight against the infections such as Whooping Cough. High Levels of White Blood cells are indicative of the inflammation or infection.
  3. Chest X Rays: The doctors may order a chest X ray in order to check for signs of inflammation or fluid in the lungs. The chest X rays are done in case of pneumonia which can complicate the whooping cough or other respiratory ailments. 

Whooping Cough – Treatment and Drugs

Medical Practitioners mostly recommend treating Whooping Cough in infants with hospitalization as the cough can prove to be fatal for the infants. If the infected child is not able to hold down the liquids or food, then IV treatment may be necessary. The infected child is often isolated from the others in order to prevent the spreading of the infection.

In case of teenagers and adults, the treatment can be easily managed at home.

Medications such as antibiotics are used extensively in order to kill the bacteria and to help with the recovery of the child. Family members are also prescribed antibiotics as a preventive measure. Over the counter medications have little effect in treating Whooping Cough and are discouraged. In the event of above symptoms in infants, it is advised to get in touch with an experienced Pediatrician

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