Whooping cough is also known as pertussis. It is a respiratory infection that can cause coughing fits. In serious cases, the coughing can become violent and rapid. You may cough so hard that you vomit. It is referred to as whooping cough because of the sounds made when you try to breathe in after coughing.
Whooping cough is very contagious and can affect anyone. Babies who have not yet received their vaccines are especially vulnerable to it. About half of babies under age one who get whooping cough need care in the hospital.
What causes Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough is due to a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It spread through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. Once you become infected with whooping cough, it takes about seven to 10 days for signs and symptoms to appear. They are mild at first and resemble those of a common cold.
Symptoms of Whooping Cough
If whooping cough persists, it can accumulate inside your airways and leads to uncontrolled coughing. It may also:
- Provoke vomiting
- Result in bluish or red face
- Cause extreme fatigue
- End with a high-pitched whoop sound during the next breath of air
Seek medical attention right away if symptoms include:
- Your face or your child’s face turns to bluish or red
- Seem to be struggling to breathe or have noticeable pauses in breathing
- Inhale with a whooping sound
Risk Factors and Complications of Whooping Cough
- Nonvaccinated children
- Contact with an infected person
- Epidemic exposure
Unvaccinated infants who are younger than age 12 months have the highest risk for severe complications and death. Complications include:
- Bruised or cracked ribs
- Abdominal hernias
- Broken blood vessels in the skin or the whites of your eyes
For infants, complications include:
How to Diagnose Whooping Cough?
Diagnosing whooping cough in its early stages can be difficult as the symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses. Doctors will assess the symptoms and medical history. Other diagnostic methods include:
- A nose or throat culture and test. A swab test is advisable to determine the presence of whooping cough bacteria.
- Blood tests. A blood sample will check the level of a white blood cell. A high white blood cell count indicates the presence of infection or inflammation.
- Chest X-ray. It determines the presence of inflammation or fluid in the lungs. It can occur when pneumonia complicates whooping cough and other respiratory infections.
Treatment for Whooping Cough
Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics. Ensure to finish the treatment period to prevent other complications.