Pertussis Disease (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis disease, also called whooping cough, is an extremely communicable disease. The bacteria Bordetella pertussis causes pertussis disease. Whooping Cough is transmissible from one person to another through large respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. These droplets contain bacteria, which produce pertussis toxins.

The bacterial infection leads to uncontrollable coughing spells that are severe resulting in breathlessness, eating as well as sleeping problems. Pertussis or whooping cough brings about cracked ribs, pneumonia, or hospitalization.

Pertussis or whooping cough diseases

Diseases of pertussis appear within 5 to 10 days after getting infected. Rarely, pertussis diseases do not appear for as long as 3 weeks.

The early diseases appear as common cold diseases, like -

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Mild cough
  • Apnea - Interruption in breathing (in infants)

After 1 to 2 weeks, uncontrollable coughing begins. The acute diseases of pertussis may include:

  • Severe coughing repeatedly
  • Difficulty breathing after coughing episode. A "whooping" sound is produced. The name "whooping cough" originated from this sound. Infants usually gag and gasp.
  • Breathing, eating, drinking, or sleeping problems due to severe coughing, which is usually observed more at night.
  • Vomiting due to continuous coughing fits.
  • Exhaustion after violent coughing fits
  • Infants can get pneumonia, seizures, and cracked ribs

The coughing episodes stay upto10 weeks or more. Whooping cough is more serious in babies. So, if you are experiencing any of the above diseases then don't wait. Book an appointment now and get treated with the best pulmonologist in Hyderabad.

Diagnosis of Pertussis

The initial pertussis diseases are similar to respiratory illnesses; therefore it is difficult to diagnose in the early stages. But once the pertussis disease has progressed, the doctor can diagnose whooping cough by -

  • Examining your diseases
  • Medical history (any close contact with an infected person)
  • Tests - Collecting a nose or throat swab, blood test
  • Chest X-ray

Pertussis treatment

Pertussis treatment consists of -

  • Taking antibiotics medications
  • Supportive therapy comprising plenty of rest and fluids
  • Consuming little, frequent meals to prevent vomiting
  • Clean home to remove irritants that can trigger coughing like dust, smoke, or any allergen factors
  • Hospitalization in life-threatening cases

Pertussis vaccine

Pertussis vaccines are available that can help prevent pertussis disease or whooping cough. Two types of pertussis vaccines are available that provide immunity against whooping cough. These vaccines protect against other illnesses as well. DTaP vaccine is administered in infants and young children (less than 7 years). Tdap vaccine is administered in older children and adults. It is recommended that adults should also get vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine if they haven't received the vaccine before. Talk with your doctor if you have doubts regarding the pertussis vaccine.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is whooping cough life-threatening for babies?

Whooping cough is found to be fatal for infants and young children. It may need extra care, due to-

  • Hospitalization
  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage

2. How to prevent whooping cough?

It can be averted by vaccination. If you came into close contact with an infected person, then your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics to prevent infection.

3. Is the DTP vaccine safe for use?

The DTP vaccine is safe. Sometimes a few side effects are observed.

4. What side effects are observed during whooping cough vaccination?

2Many children do not exhibit any side effects from the vaccine. The less severe side-effects noticed are redness, swelling, pain at the injection site, fever, and vomiting.

5. Does whooping cough subsides on its own?

The effects of pertussis bacteria diminish naturally after three weeks of coughing.