LiveMD brings you all of the important facts on whooping cough and it’s symptoms.
What is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, primarily affects children but it can be found in people of any age, specifically those with a weakened immune system. It is an extremely contagious bacterial infection that is transmitted by the spread of airborne particles when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacteria enters the body and attaches to the tiny hair-like structures in the upper respiratory tract, called cilia. It then releases toxins that damage the cilia and cause the airways to swell, resulting in a severe cough and difficulty breathing.
What are the Symptoms of Whooping Cough?
It can sometimes take upto 10 days after initial infection for symptoms to begin to show. An infected person will begin to show symptoms that resemble the common cold such as a mild cough, sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea and a low-grade fever. These symptoms can continue for up to 7 days after which, a severe, dry cough will develop. This cough does not produce any mucus and can cause severe coughing spells. Children may make a “whooping” sound when coughing and it may be very difficult for them to catch their breath, causing their face to turn purple or red. Due to the severity of these spells, some children may also vomit. With proper medical care, a typical case of pertussis will last a couple of weeks.
What is the Best Treatment and Prevention?
The most effective way to prevent a whopping cough infection is to stay away from those who are known to have the infection. Frequent hand washing and good hygiene habits can also help to protect you from getting sick.
If you or your child has already contracted the virus, then early treatment is very important. Antibiotics are usually given to kill the bacteria and to stop the infection from progressing and getting worse. If the antibiotics are started early on, before a severe cough develops, then the severity and duration of the whooping cough will be greatly decreased.
It is very important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you or a loved one may have the whooping cough infection. Prompt medical attention is especially important for children under 6 months of age.
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