Pertussis Symptoms: Causes, Types, Treatments and Home Remedies

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By Medicover Hospitals / 28 March 2022
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Pertussis meaning

  • 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.

    People with whooping cough can easily transmit the infection for about 3 weeks after the cough starts, and the infected people may have coughing spells for about 4 to 8 weeks. It is found to be most fatal in infants. Whooping cough can easily spread through families, childcare centers, and schools.
    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 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.
  • Pertussis or whooping cough symptoms

  • Symptoms of pertussis appear within 5 to 10 days after getting infected. Rarely, pertussis symptoms do not appear for as long as 3 weeks.
    The early symptoms appear as common cold symptoms, like -
    • Runny nose
    • Sneezing
    • Mild cough
    • Apnea - Interruption in breathing (in infants)
    After 1 to 2 weeks, uncontrollable coughing begins. The acute symptoms 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 symptoms then don't wait. Book an appointment now and get treated with the best pulmonologist in Hyderabad.

    Diagnosing pertussis -

    The initial pertussis symptoms 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 symptoms
    • 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
  • Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Whooping cough is found to be fatal for infants and young children. It may need extra care, due to-
    • Hospitalization
    • Pneumonia
    • Seizures
    • Brain damage
    • 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.
    • Maintain distance from people having uncontrollable coughing
    • Cover your nose or mouth from getting infected
    • Wash hands frequently

  • The DTP vaccine is safe. Sometimes a few side effects are observed.
  • Many 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. Serious side effects noticed are:
    • Very high fever
    • Continous crying for long hours
    • Seizures

  • The effects of pertussis bacteria diminish naturally after three weeks of coughing.
  • Pregnant women can take the Tdap vaccine to help protect babies. However, before taking the vaccine doctor advice is highly recommended.
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