Whooping cough is a self-resolving condition that is generally harmless, unless the patient is very young or very old, or has an immune deficiency. It is important, however, to be aware of the symptoms of whooping cough or pertussis, not in the least because it is a highly contagious infection. It is important to keep those who have already contracted it away from those who are in the high risk groups.
The Symptoms of Whooping Cough or Pertussis:
Usually, the first symptoms of whooping cough or pertussis mimic those of the common cold. These include having red and watery eyes, a runny noise, a slight fever, and a sore throat. Around one week after, however, intense coughing bouts will begin. At that point, the most common symptoms include:
– Having regular bouts of intensive coughing, lasting for a few minutes. They tend to happen more frequently at night.
– While coughing, thick mucus gets brought up, and many patients vomit as well.
– Gasping for breath between coughs, which can sometimes produce a “whooping” sound, from which the condition gets its name. This is more common in young children, and some people don’t have the whoop at all.
– Developing a very red face as a result of straining to cough. It is common to see some bleeding in the eyes or under the skin.
– Developing cyanosis, particularly in young children, which means they turn blue for a brief moment. While this looks very bad, it is often not dangerous and normal breathing should commence again quite quickly.
– Stopping to breathe completely for a short period of time, which tends to happen in young babies. They usually do not have a noticeable cough.
Over time, the bouts of coughing become less intense, and they happen less frequently. However, it can take several months for the infection to clear up completely. It is, for many, a distressing disease, but one that is often not very dangerous.
Who Can Get Whooping Cough?
Anyone can get whooping cough, regardless of age. This includes:
– Babies and very young children. Those under six months old are at an increased risk of developing complications as a result of the illness.
– Older children, as well as adults, in which case the illness usually does not have any serious consequences, but it remains frustrating and unpleasant.
– Anyone who has had the condition in the past, as the body does not build a lifelong immunity to it. However, the second time someone has whooping cough tends to be less severe and less lengthy.
– Those who have had a vaccination against the condition when they were children, as it is only effective for a few years.
Anyone who is in close contact to a person who has whooping cough is at risk of developing it, as it is highly contagious. Those who have the disease become contagious about six days after getting infected, which is the period of time when they appear to just have a regular cough. Once the intense bouts of coughing start, they remain contagious for another 21 days.